May 4, 2008
Proper xx (A)
7th Sun of Easter/May 4
What do you do while you wait? Some people talk on the phone while sitting at the stop light. Others have a magazine for that moment when they are stopped at a rail road crossing. Many of us simply wait – gazing into space, wondering just how long this is all going to take.
Two angels ask the disciples why they are “gazing into the sky.” After all, Jesus has just commissioned them to be His witnesses “to the end of the earth.” They should have plenty to do.
Disciples of Jesus act on what they do know rather than what they don’t (
The disciples were more concerned about the political and national repercussions of the resurrection than they were about the state of those who didn’t yet share their faith. Can you imagine the tragic results to the kingdom of God if that had remained the case?
David Kinnamon (Unchristian, Barna Group, 2007) reports that young (17-29) un-churched adults consider evangelical Christians too political (it’s one of six indictments). Is it possible they are correct? Could it be that we are more concerned about who gets elected than we are the not-yet-elect? Is it possible that we are staring off into political skies instead of heeding the words of Jesus – “go into all the world and make disciples”?
The church’s marching orders are clear. We are to be witnesses. There is a world out there that needs Jesus. We are responsible to tell them. Unfortunately, we are sometimes so caught in the traps of concern over political kingdoms and potentially fulfilled prophesies that we forget our mission.
Even more unfortunate is that fact that we are witnesses (the verb could be future indicative instead of future imperative). People will determine their view of Jesus and His kingdom based on what they see in us.
Disciples of Jesus act in the power of God not their own power (
Disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit and by the hope of Jesus’ return. Neither is in their control – both propel us outward to the world.
A dozen of us were in the Denver airport waiting for a plane back to Illinois. A dozen of us waiting while we watched the snow accumulate and the delays diminished our hope. Some of us read, a few of us talked, a couple even managed to sleep. But not John. John spent time with people. Without any hint of being obnoxious he managed to ask nearly everyone in the waiting area what he could pray for. And most, if not all, allowed him to pray for them. He knew what to do while he waited.
John is moved by the Spirit of God. But he is not “more powerful” than the rest of us. Each of us who have been received into a relationship with Christ has been empowered from on high to witness for Christ. It is not for lack of power that we are silent; it may be for lack of courage.
I find myself troubled by the closing verses of Revelation. I hear people pray the closing prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus.” But I can’t. I can’t, so long as my neighbors don’t know Jesus. I can’t, so long as my friends have not come to faith. I can’t, and neither can you, if you have family who are removed from Christ by their sin. You see, I believe Jesus is coming. That is my hope. It empowers my faithfulness and it drives my desire to relate to un-churched people. But it’s also my fear…that He will come before these people are ready.
Disciples of Jesus act on what they know, in the power of God, and they don’t do it alone.
Disciples of Jesus recognize the power of community over individuality (
After being roused from their gazing by the angels the disciples made their way back to Jerusalem. There they joined the rest of the disciples . . . and they prayed. Not just once or twice – they devoted themselves to prayer. And then they got on with it. They moved forward: selecting a replacement for Judas, sharing their lives with each other, experiencing the power of the Spirit, preaching about Jesus.
Apparently they “got it,” at least in part. They were to be witnesses to Jerusalem. It was a start. In a few chapters they would be invited to Samaria. Then, they’d be forced into the rest of the world. The promise (command?) was, “You will be my witnesses.” God would make sure of that.
Disciples of Jesus know what to do while they wait – they witness!