Then they gathered around [Jesus] and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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” (Acts 1:6–8).
Remarkably, God chose not to complete the story and tie up all the loose ends with the death and resurrection of his Son. Though Jesus’ work of atonement was complete and the forces of evil had been dealt a fatal blow, the story did not end with the resurrection.
Instead, the triumph of Jesus from the grave started a new chapter. And this new chapter began with the startling decision of Jesus to physically depart, leaving all of his followers behind. His one final act was to give them a mission in the world. There were specific tasks he wanted them to finish. And they could accept this mission with all of its consequences or they could walk away and return to their previous lives as fishermen, laborers, and tax collectors. He gave them a choice.
And they made it. They chose obedience. The once scattered and fearful disciples returned to Jerusalem, gathered together and prayed constantly, selected Matthias to replace Judas, and then waited for the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised. Ten days later, just as Jesus had said, the dramatic arrival of the Holy Spirit occurred on Pentecost.
From that day on, as we read in the book of Acts, the disciples proclaimed the gospel with revolutionary fervor throughout Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the known world. They were driven. Nothing was more important. Their worldview had been shattered by the amazing events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the new truths he taught about God, and the urgent mission he had given them to accomplish. None of them just went back to the lives they’d had before Jesus called them; how could they?
In the twenty centuries that have followed, nothing has changed, and everything has changed. The vital mission given by Jesus to his followers is still in force. Every single teaching and instruction is still in effect. Truth doesn’t change, but the world does. Today our worldviews have been assaulted by a thousand competing influences. It is so very easy to be seduced away from God’s truth.
As followers of Christ, we should want to embrace his view of the world. We should want to see the world as he must see it, love the world as he loves it, and live in the world as he would want us to live, weeping when he would weep and treasuring what he treasures.
How do you think your values change when you choose to follow Christ? How does the world challenge his and your values?
Father, please help me to see the world as you see it, with love, compassion, and discernment.