Better You Than Jesus?

This summer we will explore the mission of God in the story of Acts. The first few posts will adapt some of our new Acts curriculum to show how Acts 1 helps connect the mission of God to Luke's purpose in Acts. Following our work in Acts 1, we will take a deep dive into Peter's Pentecost sermon, paying special attention to how he connects the Bible to his world, calling others to pursue all of life as ministry.

Acts 1:9–11

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

In a very profound and powerful way, these verses tell us where God is sending us.

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you become no earthly good.” This is precisely what is happening to the apostles as they are looking up to heaven amazed at Jesus’ ascension. As they gaze heavenward two men in white robes appear right next to them to remind them not to look “up there,” but to look “out here” as Jesus’ ministry on earth continues through his people.

We can get so caught up in looking to heaven waiting for Jesus to come back that we forget to look for where the Lord is working directly in front of us. Jesus will come back, and when he comes back, our hope is in being his children - children who are found faithful to their Father and to his mission. Until then, he has entrusted the mission to us and is empowering us by the Spirit to do his kingdom’s work.

Let this shocking statement sink in for a bit

I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

Those are the words of Jesus to his disciples.

Yep, Jesus says that it is better for him to go away than to stay. Why? Because when he leaves, he sends. He sends the Spirit to guide us and then sends us into the world empowered by his Spirit. As a result, the body of Christ grows, his ministry multiplies, and the kingdom expands through his people. This is the risen and ascended Lord Jesus at work.

He is working through you right where you are. You have the opportunity to offer your work as an act of worship and witness to the resurrection. Your work is an offering of worship because you are serving Christ through your work. As Paul says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24). If we serve in this way, then we are witnesses to the risen Lord Jesus as we look to our future inheritance as our reward.

So adopt Paul's prayer for the Colossian church as your own: “Lord, strengthen me with all power, according to your glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, allowing me to give thanks to the Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11–12).

Amen!

Mark Catlin