As we continue in the book of Acts, we have seen from Luke the necessity for the church to focus on the life of Jesus, to harness the power of Christ, and finally we see the “so what?”- the call to adopt…
The Mission of Jesus- (Acts 1:6-11) 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The power of Christ is meant to be experienced by the followers of Christ! As his apostles and the disciples of Christ, Dr. Luke makes it clear that the Spirit was meant for a very specific reason- it would be the means of “receiving power” to be witnesses to in Judea and Samaria—to the Jews and the ends of the earth-to a world full of Gentiles. Yet what does it mean to be a witness? It brings to mind Law and Order or Court T.V. —or if you are a movie buff it may bring to mind “A FEW GOOD MEN”—Jack Nicholson plays a Marine Corp Colonel—on the stand being battered by Tom Cruise, the defense attorney—who is demanding answers, demanding the truth, when finally Nicholson’s character famously screamed out, “YOU CAN”T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” The truth which Dr. Luke reveals is a tough one, that being a witness goes far behind giving testimony and goes to the point of giving your life. He uses a very specific word for witnesses- μάρτυρας—martyrs—someone who gives their life for the mission! Why did Christ give us the power of the Holy Spirit? Not so we could stand motionless staring into the sky after him, but so that we could be empowered to serve like him! So that by our words, witness, by our works, by our very lives, we would be literally dying to self to be raised up like Christ in hopes of bringing others to Christ!
What you see as the purpose of the church leads directly into what you expect from the church! Sometimes parents will send their children to church hoping it instills moral framework or foundation! Sometimes married couples come to church wanting the spirituality or religious nature to save their marriage! Others come wanting church to be a place of connectivity or a trampoline to hitting their 5, 10 or 15 year personal plan! A place that offers self-actualization or gives motivation with a heavy hand of inspiration- a place to feel good.
In truth, church is none of those things and each of those things! The church fundamentally, is a place of mission! We are called to take the Good News to the world, but it is the only mission that doesn’t come at the expense of its servants, but instead at their benefit! The church is a place that offers relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost, and the rest come as result. It is relationship over research, it is imitation over simple admiration, and it is words and works that go together in a holy knot that is impossible to pull apart.
Through the Holy Spirit we find the power to do what alone we would be unable to do—Just as Dr. Luke found an adventure that took him beyond the halls of study into the streets with the Spirit, by following his lead, embracing our Savior, we are empowered to join in a mission that will make history!