God Breathes When the World Needs Big Solutions

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 6/7/2020

I’m calling this message: “God Breathes. . . When the World Needs Big Solutions.” I don’t think anyone can look at the current crisis and not agree that our world has big problems and needs big solutions.

What kind of problems are we talking about? If you asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said that COVID-19 has exposed people’s compulsive fear of death. Just like that, we all became germaphobes, like Howie Mandel! For the promise of safety, we’ll surrender most anything dear to us. Our rights, our livelihood, our way of life, our privacy, our freedoms. We had this social media war over individual freedoms verses the collective health/well-being of others.

But more specifically, COVID-19 shattered the illusion that Science, Medicine, and Government can keep us safe. But our Science, and all our models, wasn’t quite as Omniscient/All-Knowing as advertised. Medicine and Technology, despite the heroic efforts and sacrifices that have been made by very good/ brilliant people, haven’t inoculated us from danger. Our government, with all its largess, has not been quite as Omnipotent/All-Powerful/Responsive to protect us.

Isn’t it amazing how quickly our attention changes? COVID-19 was suddenly eclipsed by our collective rage over the murder of George Floyd. I don’t know a single person (white/black/blue, young/old, Christian/non) who isn’t horrified, sickened, outraged by the brutality of those four officers. His murder, as profoundly as anything in recent memory, has exposed the ugly underbelly, the deep and dark depravity, of our society.

Millions believe those officers’ actions are endemic of all police officers, and even all white people. That such brutality (and more generally white supremacy) exists in every corridor, every corner, every. . . power structure, symbol, flag, uniform, law, institution, branch of government, branch of military, Main street, Wall street, every school, college, university, textbook, you name it. . . every system!

Many believe that the pandemic of racism (much like COVID-19), has spread often undetected from the beginning of our nation. . . that racial hatred has infected every single aspect of American society… and particularly (especially) white America. This charge is as explosive to white people as is counter charge that every protester (black person) is a rioter, looter, thug, thief, criminal, or. . .

And the finger is pointed just as much at the Church. The Church is seen as complicit, by virtue of its silence at times… by virtue of its inaction… by virtue of its historic/theological justification of authoritarianism, brutality and slavery… the Church is seen as the great enabler, exacerbating white supremacy!

I mention the Church, because no matter how one person (or another) frames the problem of human depravity (as racism, as privilege, as hate, as universal, as exclusively white, or black, or blue)… not many believe the Church is itself (or has any kind of real solution) to present!

I am watching this next generation. I am watching the mass of young people even in this church. I am watching the majority even of Bible College students look away from the Church, away from the gospel, away from the Spirit of the Living God, away from the Word of God, away from Christ. . . for someone else, or something else, to be the solution.

I would like to propose that when the world needs big solutions, God’s Holy Spirit breathes. On the day of Pentecost you had these people gathered from different tribes, tongues and nations. These people had profound difference culturally, racially, socially, economically. There were Jews and Gentiles, Samaritans, legit Roman Citizens and non-citizens. Here is a key detail… every person gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost speaking their own language!

That’s what I see today. I see everybody speaking their own language. Our own language makes sense to us. Each person has his own logic, way of thinking, experiences, memories, impressions, attitudes, values, judgments, semantics. It’s like the tower of Babel. It’s not just that we “don’t” understand the other, it’s that we “can’t” understand each other.

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable— who can understand it?” Luke 16:15, in Jesus’s own words, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others. . . what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.” Proverbs 21:2, “All a person’s ways seem right to him. . .” We’re all speaking past one another!

But it’s the miracle of Pentecost that when God breathes his Spirit down unto the Church from heaven… Acts 2:4, the apostles were “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them!” Acts 2:6, “each one heard them speaking in his own language.” Acts 2:8-11 they ask, “How is it that each of us can hear them in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Cretans and Arabs. . .” Acts 2:11, “We hear them declaring the magnificent acts of God in our tongues!” Maybe if God’s Spirit broke through the barriers back then He can breath/break through the same barriers exist today?

Let me ask you sincerely. When and where have you ever seen any dividing wall of hostility, past or present, completely obliterated by the hard Sciences, by the soft sciences of Sociology, Psychology… by Medicine, by Government, by Education, by social policy, by social media, by social engineering, by material wealth or prosperity, by war or violence, by political correctness, by mass media? From whom, from where, from what, will the fresh breath of air come?

Yet do you remember, how in that upper room, after his resurrection, Jesus in John 20:21 says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And then John 20:22-23, “After saying this, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Is our problem in our culture the prevalence of racism, or is it the absence of mercy and grace? It is the prevalence of racism, or our inability to forgive and be forgiven?

These disciples were as diverse as any conglomeration of people ever assembled. You had a thieving, tax collecting, Roman sympathizer. You had a knife wielding Jewish zealot. You had the sons of thunder—the brothers of thunders— which is clearly a reference to their volatile temperament. I could go on… but Jesus was breathing his Holy Spirit upon them and declaring that His peace would once and for all define their relationships, that grace, that mercy, that forgiveness, that a new reality would emerge among them!

Ephesians 2:11-14, “So, then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” . . . 12 At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.”

You walk out into the world, and its escalating hostility, hate, anger, rage, brutality. It’s not just the police who are brutal, it’s the lawless who prove themselves of equal even greater brutality. Even the rank and file citizen… judging, blaming, accusing, belittling, stoking, verbalizing, attacking…

But here in the Church there is a different reality. As 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, we’ve all been “given one spirit to drink.” As Galatians 3:27 says, We’ve all been “clothed with Christ.” As Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female [remember #MeToo?]. . . you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

When the world needs a big solutions, as the world Hashtags itself to death collecting up one injustice after another… God breathes! He breathes his Spirit, he breathes peace, he breathes his mercy, grace, he breathes forgiveness.

Here is what I see right now. Every single one of us is walking on eggshells. Maybe it’s not eggshells, maybe its shards of glass. You can’t so much as breathe and you’ve committed a micro aggression against someone. Do you know why everything has become a microaggression? If you speak up, if you don’t speak up, if you say things the wrong way, if you don’t use the right tone, the right words, the right semantics… post the right meme… there is no grace!

You know where else I see this same dynamic? In marital counseling! In marital counseling you have two people who have already justified themselves in their own eyes. Though seeking counseling in the 11th hour, they’ve already resolved themselves to divorce, to hate, to be apart, to separate. And there is anger, and hurt, and pain, and hostility, and walls being built…. And every single thing the other person does gets interpreted in the worse possible light, is given the darkest spin, is assigned the most vile motive. It’s so ugly. That’s our culture. That’s racism. It’s whites and blacks (Jews/Gentiles, slave/free, male/female, Roman’s citizens and illegals, documenteds and undocumenteds…). . . its everyone resigned to both self-justification and DIVORCE.

What hope is there in the 11th hour for cultural, much less marital, reconciliation? Is this not the crisis for which we are all now seeking a solution? Praise be to God, that he breathes his Holy Spirit peace upon us! Ephesians 4:1-6, “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Don’t you see? God obliterates the worldly, dividing walls of hostility by forging deep within by his Holy Spirit a common bond of unity! We become one with both Father, Son, Holy Spirit and One with each other!

Are you ready for the best part friends? This is epic. When the world needs big solutions, God raises up a big church by his Holy Spirit. Can you think of anyone who lived a larger life than Christ Jesus himself? Can you think of any bigger hole created in humanity than when Christ Jesus was murdered? If you think George Floyd left a big hole, or Martin Luther King, or tens of thousands of others… what about Christ Jesus? He suffered and died unjustly too.

Ephesians 4:7-8 tells us however, that when Christ ascended into heaven, he didn’t leave a vacuous hole in humanity. Ephesians 4:8 says, “When he ascended on high he took captives (slaves) captive; he gave gifts to people.” In Ephesians 4:10-11 Paul elaborates! “The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things. And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. . .”

Jesus left the earth bodily, but left on earth the Holy Spirit-endowed, Holy Spirit-gifted body of Christ, the Church. And it was God’s intention that the Church fill the big sandals left by Christ. Ephesians 4:7 says, “Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” You and I have been given things by Christ’s Spirit, not for our own privilege or self-benefit, but to serve and build up this body of Christ, this Church, the Kingdom of God! The world is burning itself down but the Spirit of Christ is building Christ’s Church!

Ephesians 4:12, “he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ. . .” Friends this is our work! What do we do when the world needs big solutions? We build up the church. It’s urgent work.

Ephesians 4:13-16. To what end do we build? “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit (by the divisive media, and race-baiters, and race-hustlers). 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. 16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.”

Huh. Imagine that! The miracle of the Spirit. Our speech, our language…. Not only are we speaking the same language, not only are we serving one another in love, but were actually being transformed to be fully mature, just like Christ, filling world with Christ’s glory!

The Church is the most beautiful, transformative cause we can give our energy to. When the world needs big solutions, God’s Spirit breathes!

Scripture Verses

Acts 2:4-11, Ephesians 2:11-14; 4:1-16, John 20:21-23, Jeremiah 17:9

Worship Playlist

God of the Promise by Elevation Worship

All Creatures of Our God and King by Sovereign Grace

Christ Be Magnified by Cody Carnes

King of Glory by Passion

Study Questions

1. Relate a time when you had a problem that was bigger than any solution you could muster up? How was the problem resolved?

2. In the Bible, what situation comes to mind where a big solution was needed, that only God could supply?

3. How do we depend on God’s Spirit to help us find solutions in a world filled with pandemics and civil unrest?

4. Write out and share a prayer with your group asking God to breathe over us as he uses us as ambassadors and agents of reconciliation. (See 2 Cor 5).

Apply It!