STAY HERE, START HERE!
It’s common to long for something new. It’s easy to become dissatisfied, disillusioned, and even disgruntled with current circumstances. Wondering how we got here, we may blame ourselves, others, fate, fortune, luck, or God—and want out!
Like us, Jesus’ disciples wondered about their current situation after Jesus’ resurrection. Now, they believed, he could really change things. Here’s the Bible conversation:
“When they were together for the last time they asked, ‘Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?’
“Jesus told them, ‘You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.’
“These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky.
“Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, ‘You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.’” (Acts 1:6–11, The Message)
Jesus’ response disappointed the disciples. First, he didn’t know when the Kingdom would be restored. Second, he assigned them to stay and start in Jerusalem, the city that rejected Jesus a few weeks earlier. Third, Jesus left them for heaven¾not fun.
The men-in-white, puzzled by the disciples staring up into space, ask, “Why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky?” In essence saying, “Wake up boys! Snap out of it! It’s okay! He’ll be back!”
Unlike the dumb-founded disciples, we read the story with 2000 years “under our belts.” We know that Jesus’ commission to go “even to the ends of the world” is still working. Globally, Jesus is a household name. His popularity is on the fast-track in Africa, South America, and Asia. While we may miss this in our secularized, post-modern “Western” world, a bit of online research indicates such trending.
Soon after Jesus left, his disciples, now filled with the Holy Spirit, wrote books. Their writings—now the New Testament Bible—teach us much about the heaven into which Jesus ascended. They also make it clear that Jesus is coming back any day now “to restore the kingdom to Israel.” They exhort us to believe and be ready!
The Holy Spirit is activating Jesus’s mission which calls us to share our love for, and faith in, Jesus with the folks in our own “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and globally.
The mission becomes clearer when we adapt it locally as follows: “What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Chowchilla, all Madera County, Merced County, even to the ends of the world.”
Accepting this mission you may not need to change jobs, relationships, or towns. With the old chorus, we can simply sing, “brighten up the corner where you are…” Shine on!
John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. For more call: (209) 726-0119.