Saturday, February 17, 2007

Acts 1:8

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

It's so easy in daily life to discuss trivial things. It's easy to discuss things like kids, family, vacations, gardening, what's for dinner, etc. I could go on and on. But how many times do we discuss what is truly important? How many times do we ask our friends and acquaintances if they know Jesus? There is a common unwritten agreement that we don't discuss money, religion, or church with other people. Why? Because we are worried that we might offend in some way. That has become a serious wrong with churches today. We are afraid to share God's love because we may offend someone. Someone new walks into church and we all say hi and welcome them, and then after they're gone everyone discusses what little they know about "that new person." And gosh, do you think they'll be back? Did we do anything to offend them? Why on earth don't we walk up to that new person, greet them warmly, and then introduce them to Jesus? We is there this sense that we have to pussyfoot around- that we need to tip-toe, and make this person feel warm and welcome, and get them involved and only THEN do we ask them if they've made a commitment to God. That's so backwards and just not the way it should be.

We are told in Acts 1:8 that we are to be Christ's Ambassadors. A real ambassador doesn't walk into a foreign country timidly! They walk in and announce their presence and allow their hosts to serve them in whatever way possible. This verse tells us exactly where we are to be Christ's Ambassadors- in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. These are metaphorical for us today, for this was being preached to the people of Jerusalem. So in this instance, Jerusalem means our home town, Judea means our own state, Samaria is the home of our enemies, and to the ends of the earth means where culture and language are completely different from our own. It is often easier to start at "the ends of the earth" because it can be easier to share God's love with a complete stranger than with a neighbor that you've known for years. Yet we need to start with that neighbor. Jesus promised to always be with us, and he gave us a direct command, along with the power to carry it out. The Holy Spirit will come upon us when we need it most. We need to go and be witnesses of the gospel, and we need to do it in love. The Holy Spirit will help us to say the right words, and will guide our conversation into the direction that we need to go.

Imagine leading your entire neighborhood to Christ! What an accomplishment! I just finished reading a series of books by Beverly Lewis. They are set in Amish country, and one of the main characters is a very old matriarch who knows Jesus, but hasn't shared his love with the rest of her community. Towards the end, she has a stroke and is unable to communicate for a while. Eventually she begins to speak and move some, and her first agenda is to save her people. As she's lying in bed alone, all she can think about is what Jesus will think of her. And she is brought to tears because she could die at any time, and she has not shared his love with those she loves. It was a very powerful moment in the book, and really made me stop and think.

What do you think? What will Jesus say when you meet him face to face? Will he say "well done..." Or will it be "you could have done so much more..." I certainly pray that it is not the latter.

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