The Promise

There it was, a simple sentence written in the margin of my Bible.  “I want to see this in my life.”  However long ago that was written, the yearning has only intensified since then.  The catalyst for this heart cry?  It started days ago as I read about Jesus speaking to His disciples before ascending to heaven.

Acts 1:8 NIV 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.

My attention was gripped by this verse more than ever before, as I put myself in the place of those disciples.  What did Jesus’ statement mean to them, and what effect did it have on them?  Those in the early church did not know what the power of the Holy Spirit coming on them would be like.  As for being His witnesses, they may have had ideas – before the night Jesus was betrayed and they all scattered.  The rest of the book of Acts lets us see the changes His Holy Spirit made in them, and the changes He made in the world through them.

Is this what we see in the church today?  Is this what I see in my own life?  Maybe our pre-conceived ideas of “being His witnesses” and “the power of the Holy Spirit” have limited us.   We emphasize “be my witnesses” without equal emphasis on “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes.”  As such, we rely on our own self-efforts to do something for Jesus, as we do witnessing.  But Jesus called us to be witnesses to others day in and day out as the life-transforming power of His Holy Spirit works in and through us.  Succeeding chapters show example after example of the early church being witnesses everywhere they were – because they received the power of Holy Spirit, Jesus’ promise to them.  They relied on Holy Spirit power to make them what they could never make themselves – representatives of Jesus Christ in word, action, and life.

Acts 5:15-16 NIV  15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.  16Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

These powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ include Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times.  The same Peter who was so zealous that he cut off a non-believer’s ear “for the Lord.”  It’s the same Peter, but there’s been a change.  This Peter now reaches out to heal ears, not take them off.  Now, the sick are laid in the streets so that Peter’s shadow will fall on them.  People come from all around to see Jesus’ witness, and they are all healed!

This is what I want to see in my life – not by faith alone, but by sight!  And this is what I want to see in the whole body of Christ.  Jesus’ promise was not to the early church alone, but to us, as well.  I’m unwilling to settle for less than what the early church experienced.  In fact, I want to see more, but as a participant, not a spectator.  The world in 2011 needs to see the reality of Christ and His power at least as much as the world in the first century.  What will it take, Lord, for us to see?

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