Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is WITNESS.
8 Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Imagine what the disciples must have thought when they heard these last words the risen Jesus would say to them before He ascended into heaven. It must have felt like Jesus had given them an impossible mission. They thought Jesus the Messiah would restore Israel and conquer the Roman occupiers. Instead, Jesus was sending them out on a mission that they never wanted and asking them to do ‘all’ the work. The disciples thought Jesus would reset the clock to Israel’s past glory days, instead, Jesus sent them into an unknown future.
The worst part for the disciples is that Jesus is specifically asking them to go where they don’t want to go. Jerusalem, the seat of religious and political authority, was hostile to Jesus’ message and was hunting Jesus’ followers. Judea was the surrounding countryside where Jesus and His message found more followers and where the disciples felt most comfortable. Samaria was a place that Jews of the time despised and avoided at all costs, but where Jesus found people willing to listen to and accept His message. Finally, the disciples are to go the ends of the earth. This mission feels impossible.
Yet Jesus tells the disciples this mission is possible because they will be given the power of the Holy Spirit. We too, are called to this mission and have the Spirit-filled presence of Christ within us. The indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is what makes this impossible mission, a mission possible. When we witness to the love of God, fight against injustice, or find ourselves among people we don’t agree with, it is the power of the Spirit that makes our witness possible. We and our church community are called to be witnesses in the halls of power, where we live and among people who may hate us. Wherever ever we witness, the light of Christ will shine through us showing God’s love.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Where is Jesus asking you to be a witness? Is it some where you don’t want to go or is it when you are asked to participate in uncomfortable conversations? Are you willing to leave past expectations behind in order to follow Jesus? When have you or your church community stood against injustice to be a witness to God’s love?
Prayer: Holy Spirit, be with us in those moments where we are called to be witnesses to God’s love. You know those places we don’t want to go and the people we avoid. Change our hearts, and give us the words and the actions needed to be your witnesses. Amen.