Scripture text for Thursday, April 8th, 2010: Acts 1:1-1:11
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I read a book in College that God used in a powerful way to change the way I viewed my role in his Kingdom and it fits like a hand in glove with the passage we read for today. The book was In the Gap by David Bryant. One of the most powerful parts of the book is the case he makes for all Christians to be “World Christians” which sounds of course very much like what Jesus says in this passage to his disciples before he ascends into heaven. He tells them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on” them and “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is a declarative statement on Jesus’ part, meaning he is simply telling them what their role is and how they will be viewed. And so the question becomes, how do I see myself and my role? Is it consistent with what Jesus says here?
Bryant contrasts what he calls “Pea-sized Christians” with “World Christians.” I can’t imagine many of you reading this, or any Christian for that matter, is going to want to be a “Pea-sized” Christian or a Pea-sized anything for that matter. Pea-sized Christians, according to Bryant, get stuck on their own salvation, become self focused, and most typically end up pursuing a consumeristic version of the faith and huddled in a holy cloister. In contrast, World Christians are other focused, join God’s great plan of salvation to reach the world, maintain relationships with those still outside of the faith, and discover a joy and satisfaction they scarcely imagined was possible.
One way of seeing how God’s plan of salvation has unfolded is to see it in terms of three temples. The temple of David and Solomon, was the first in which God resided in the Holy of Holies. The second temple can be seen to be Jesus, the divine son of God. And the third temple is believers, who are indwelled with God’s presence in the person of the Holy Spirit. This is a great mystery and not easily understood at the theological level or the day to day practical level. What does it mean for me to be filled with God’s Spirit? How do I yield to the moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart and how do I know when it is the Holy Spirit that is prompting me? How do I face the fact that even with God’s Spirit inside of me yet I sin, repeatedly?
And back to our role, “you will be my witnesses.” What does that mean for you and me today? The task seems bigger than we can handle, and of course, it is. It is only through the power of God’s Spirit that we are able to accomplish it. And it is not without difficulties and risks. After all, the word for witnesses in this verse is the Greek word martus, from which we get the term martyr. We can think of the great Martyrs of the faith throughout history, and we should, but then I am also reminded that the task of yielding to the Holy Spirit inside of me, and being a witness, requires dying to myself every day, a kind of repetitive martyrdom. May God help us all in this great task.
Devotion prepared by Dave Timmerman