[Reflections on the Lectionary Reading for June 5, 2011]
According to the ascension account in the book of Acts, Jesus answered one final question: “Is this the time when you will restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6, NRSV) In reply he told his disciples that it was not for them to know the times that have been set by God’s authority. He went on to tell them that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit and that they are to be his global witnesses.
Our curiosity wants to know. We especially want to know the future. But Jesus tells us that we should not focus on knowing the future or other answers that only God knows. Jesus tells us to focus on what we already know: the past and present. Jesus calls us to testify about how God has been working in the world. We are to spread the word about things to which we have been witnesses. Jesus promised that we would receive power. We are called to use that power to testify to what we know about God to the ends of the earth rather than what we guess about the end of the earth.
As the disciples stood watching Jesus ascend into heaven, they were probably dumbfounded. While they stood frozen on the spot, an angel snapped them out of their stunned amazement. The angel asked them why they were standing there looking up toward heaven.
Jesus had given them an assignment; they had work to do. We Christians have work to do here on earth. We should not be spending our time, energy, and power from the Holy Spirit speculating and longing for the return of Christ. We need to quit trying to unlock mysteries of things that only God knows. We should be about the business of telling others about what we do know. We need to be sharing our testimony about how God has been working in our lives and in the history of the world.
We need to be testifying about God’s love not just through words but through our actions. We need to be proving to others that God is working right now by allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us a love for our neighbors that exceeds any love that we could muster on our own.
Every person you meet today should experience a love from you that is beyond human capabilities. They should be so amazed by your love that they become curious to know its source. Once they ask, you then will have the opportunity and power to be Jesus’ proper witness.