One of Oklahoma’s United Methodist district offices added the well-known Interview with God video clip (www.theinterviewwithgod.com) to their website, and visitor usage crashed the site. Usually twenty-five or so people visited the district site—suddenly over five hundred thousand came to the site. The district communications team moved the presentation to a separate site, and it received over two million visits in the first month. I think such popularity signals the number of people who are looking for help.
Just like the millions of people who visit such Internet sites, these people in Acts come with needs. They are searching and ready for something different to happen in their lives.
The verses prior to today’s reading tell us that the people have believed and been baptized. Yet, as noted in verse 16, the Spirit has not yet come upon them. Now these apostles take the next step. Verse 15 tells us that they go to Samaria. What is the first thing they do? They pray for the baptized. And what do they pray for? They pray that these new believers “might receive the Holy Spirit.” And why would they pray for that? What role does the Holy Spirit play in a believer’s life?
After prayer and the laying on of hands, the believers in Samaria receive the Holy Spirit. They have an experience similar to the believers in Jerusalem; they all become one body.
What obstacles block you from receiving the presence, guidance, and power of the Holy Spirit? Throughout the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit serves as the presence of the risen Christ that brings the guidance and the power believers need to live a life of love as revealed in Jesus Christ. What a great place to start the year!
Lord, help us receive your Holy Spirit anew this year. Amen.