“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”— Acts 11:15-17
This November I will celebrate having served on Young Life staff for three years. Unlike many in our community, prior to joining staff, I had very limited experience with Young Life. When I was an adolescent, Young Life wasn’t in my community. In fact, it wasn’t until I was a youth minister in my local church (circa 2007) that I even heard about Young Life.
The story goes that when my students started talking about this gathering they were attending across town on Wednesday nights, naturally, I and the other youth workers were curious. Of course, when we paid a visit and saw that it was more than games and a good time and that the kids were hearing and experiencing Jesus in a different way, we were good. However, if I’m honest, our first inclination was to be anxious. Fearful even.
Often that which is foreign or unfamiliar to us leads us to be hesitant. Fearful. Even dismissive. And yet time and time again throughout Scripture we see God calling His people to lean into the unfamiliar. To put aside the anxiety and discomfort that comes with the unknown and to embrace the possibility that there may be something better in what — to us — is still undiscovered and mysterious.
If you recall the context of Acts 11, we find Peter venturing into the unfamiliar. Gentiles were being saved and receiving the Holy Spirit. I’m sure that this was disconcerting at first. Didn’t Jesus come just to save the Jews? And yet, Peter’s curiosity enabled him to bear witness to the “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) that God was doing.
Friends, indeed, we are living in turbulent times. Countries around the world are being torn apart by war and countless people are being displaced. In the U.S., communities — families even — grow increasingly divided across ideological lines. Oh, and lest we forget, we’re still in a global pandemic …
So, what are we to do?
I would offer that just like he instructed Moses, Esther, Mary, and Peter, God is calling us to stay curious. Our challenge, according to author Adam Grant in his latest work Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, is “Reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities, making it feel as if we’re losing a part of ourselves.” He added, “Our ways of thinking become habits that can weigh us down, and we don’t bother to question them until it’s too late.” Had Peter held to his core beliefs that he was to forsake the unclean, he would have missed the miracle of God inviting the broader world into his Kingdom!
So, my question for us is this:
“Where have we lost our curiosity?”
Maybe it’s around racial injustice or other issues that are all too easily dismissed as Critical Race Theory or social justice replacing the gospel. Maybe it’s around global matters that seem too far away to be relevant to your day-to-day. Whatever it is, I would urge you to stay curious!
Because there is a whole world of kids in communities near and far who are wrestling with these realities. And God is calling you and me to go. To go and show them a better way — The Way. To go and introduce them to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.
The secret weapon?
It’s the same as it was for Abraham when he left everything he knew behind to venture out into the wilderness. It’s the same as when Mary said “yes” to an angel and embraced a miraculous conception.
What is it?! Curiosity! A curiosity that emboldens our faith to believe that God can do a new thing beyond that which we could ever think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
If we stay curious, friends, just as Peter did in this passage, we may just very well see God doing a new thing in our time, in our communities, even in each of us. And through our curiosity, we will allow the Holy Spirit to use us to see a whole new generation of young people “say so” and enter into God’s Kingdom.