Witnesses for Jesus – Acts 1:1-8
Over the past couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about how we give witness to our faith in times like these. Of course, I am not the first person to wrestle with this question; the first disciples had to wrestle with this question too.
The Book of Acts, written by Luke (the author of the Gospel of Luke) begins with a resurrection story. After reminding us that Jesus had showed himself to the disciples many times over a 40 day period of time, Luke tells us one final story. The resurrected Jesus was eating with the disciples. The disciples asked Jesus the question that was most on their mind, one they had wondered about since before his crucifixion. They asked him “Lord, are you going to restore the Kingdom of Israel now?” With all they had been through, they were still struggling to understand the unfolding plan of God. (I find this encouraging for folks like us who often struggle to understand God’s plans).
Jesus responded to their question by giving them their job description. Instead of Jesus saying “I am going to restore Israel,” he said to the disciples “you are going to be my witnesses.” Jesus wanted the disciples to know that disciples enact God’s plans. There is work for us to do! We are to be Jesus witnesses in this world. That is not to say that it is ours to restore this world. We give witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, in word and deed, and God works through our efforts to bring restoration. This reality reminds me of Genesis chapters 1-2. In those creation accounts, we hear that we have responsibilities, and that we are co-workers with God in creation. That hasn’t changed. We are co-workers with God in creation. We give witness to God and God’s will for creation, and God works with us to forward God’s plans, bringing restoration to people’s lives.
Acts 1:8 makes a promise to us. When it comes to the work of witnessing, we are not in it alone. The Holy Spirit gives us the power and authority to do our part in the unfolding plan of God. This is a promise, one that encourages us. It is a promise that reminds us that the starting point for giving witness to God is God—God promises to help us, to give us the words. And, that guidance comes to us through our relationship with God. So, prayer is essential to being Jesus witness.
As we follow the stories of the disciples giving witness to Jesus through the Book of Acts, we hear their stories of their experiences with Jesus who was crucified and resurrected. Many of them had firsthand stories to tell. Of course, we weren’t in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, so we don’t have firsthand stories. But, we do have stories. Think about how you have experienced Jesus Christ in your life. Think about prayers that have been answered or times when you have experienced God guiding you or providing for you. Think about times you have experienced grace, times you have experienced God forgiving you, convicting you, growing you in the faith. Think about miracles you have experienced and signs from God that have impacted your life. In other words, how have you experienced God at work in your life? Your answer to this question is content for your witness. Knowing your story, listen to other people’s stories. Listen for opportunities when your story intersects with someone else’s need, times when your story might be exactly the words someone else needs to hear. Say a prayer. Speak. And, do so knowing you are not alone. God is with you. Speak knowing you are doing your part in helping bring to fruition the unfolding plan of God.
God bless you, and stay well.