Have you ever thought about how a platform, or stage, commands attention? In every environment I can think of where a stage or platform is present, all the seats point towards the platform. Rather it is a raised or sunken platform, the seats are designed in a way for people to see what is transpiring on the stage. I have been to baseball games, basketball games, football games, school plays, professional theatre, movies, conferences, and church worship gatherings. At every single one of those events when someone mounted the stage or the platform, all the attention became fixated on them. The stage or platform became the tool for the team, the person, or the director to share their mission, their purpose, for being there.
When it comes to gospel message the same is true. God builds a stage, a platform, for his people to share him with the world. In fact, the promise of the Spirit and his coming was to empower Jesus’ disciples for witness. This past Sunday I preached on Acts 2:14-41 where Peter delivers the first sermon of the church in which 3000 people respond in repentance and follow Jesus in baptism. But how was that message prompted? It was prompted by the Spirit building a platform. After the Spirit fell on the disciples they began to speak in tongues. These tongues involved them speaking in their native language, yet their native language fell in the native language of the hearers present. This commotion led people in the crowd to be “amazed and perplexed,” asking the disciples, “What does this mean?” Others in the crowd believed them to be drunk, as if they went to the local Jewish tavern at 8a.m that morning.
Peter using this Spirit built platform stands up, lifts up his voice, and addresses the crowd bringing clarity to what has just taken place. What’s interesting about this Spirit built platform is that it continues to happen throughout the book of Acts. In the following chapters, Acts 3 and 4, the Spirit builds another platform to share the gospel through the healing of the lame beggar. Acts 5 we read, “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. . . . And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.” Acts 6, Stephen is given a platform after doing great wonders and signs among people and after a dispute arose between him and another group about what was taking place (6:8-9).
In Acts 8, we find Philip preaching Jesus in Samaria. There in Samaria, Philip proclaimed Christ while the crowds “paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did” (Acts 8:6). Philip also mounts a Spirit built platform when he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch frustratingly reading, and not comprehending, Isaiah. Philip explains Isaiah to this eunuch in light of Jesus and the eunuch responds in faith and follows in baptism. After Philip, we encounter the church antagonist turned church apostle, Paul. After Paul ‘s conversion Luke shares that he “immediately proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues…” (Acts 9:20). The synagogue was an Spirit built-in platform that gave immediate opportunity to preach Jesus. Paul throughout his ministry would use this already constructed Spirit-built platform.
I could go on and on throughout the book of Acts pointing to the Spirit built platforms that gave opportunity for the apostles and followers of Jesus to share Jesus with others. Truth is, there is no difference today. As the Spirit built platforms for the believers to share over 2000 years ago, he too, today, builds platforms for believers to share. It is important to note that not only does the Spirit build the platforms; he empowers believers to share on the platforms.
I was reading yesterday in the book, To Transform a City, a quote that Albert Einstein made in Time magazine in the December 23, 1940 issue, which exemplifies this notion of the sharing of the gospel having a Spirit-built platform. Einstein states, “Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. I looked to the great editors of the newspaper, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. . . . Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.”
This is a great example of the Spirit of God working in and through the church to build platforms to share the gospel. But this is neither the only example, nor way, that the Spirit builds platforms. Spirit-built platforms can be built through the way Jesus changes our behaviors, our actions, our attitudes, and our patterns of life to the point where others take notice and want to know why we do certain things. Platforms can be built in how we serve others in need; how we give generously and sacrificially; or how we stand against injustices. Platforms can be seen in the situations and circumstances of people around us where they may be looking for meaning, for purpose, for relief, for love, for community, for forgiveness, for a fresh start, for parenting advice, for marital advice, or for hope. Spirit-built platforms can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Here’s my challenge to us, the church: will we be in-tuned to and aware of the Spirit’s work in and through us, as well as around us in building platforms for us to share Jesus with others. I know, sharing Jesus with others can be, and is for many (including myself), a little nerve rattling. However, know that the Spirit is preparing us and building the platform, which becomes a natural opportunity for us to share who Jesus is and what he has done and is doing in our life. In addition, just as the platform is not our responsibility to build, neither is getting one to believe and respond positively to what we are sharing. That too, is the Spirit’s responsibility.
Just think, we have only two responsibilities. First, we must be aware of the Spirit’s work in our life and how he is working in and around us to build platforms for us to share the gospel. And two, we have the responsibility to use the natural platform—that the Spirit provides—to share Jesus with others. In other words, we have the responsibility to use the tool the Spirit provides to share with others the mission and purpose of God—to save a people for himself. Has the Spirit built you a platform? Is he building you a platform? Will you use the platform?