One time I was given the task (at Vacation Bible School [VBS]) of constructing an igloo. I know it sounds insane to even think of such a thing in the middle of summer in Florida, but there I was ... trying to figure it out. Now while I can be creative, I am not the person you would pick to be 'crafty.' Lee is far more crafty than I am. But the task needed to be done, I was selected and I WAS the plan for the igloo. I wanted to say, "Are you crazy? I am the last person to be selected for this task." I can think of 100 reasons why I was totally inadequate. But ... there I was!
One of my youth and I began to think, ponder and plan. We started to collect empty plastic gallon milk jugs. We washed them out. Then, we started gluing them together. Before long a familiar shape began to appear ... an igloo in the middle of the summer in Florida! Pretty cool! Funny how we can be stretched, used, challenged and effective when we just give it up to/for God!
In Acts 1 Jesus is having a last conversation with the disciples. It would have been (temporally) just after the resurrection and just before Pentecost (June 9 this year). Jesus tells the disciples 2 things (Acts 4-8).
First, "wait for the gift (Holy Spirit) my Father promised!" Jesus presents the Holy Spirit as God's gift to the disciples. He knows that this 'gift' will enable the disciples to do the great things He is planning.
Second, Jesus says "you will be my witnesses!" They are the plan. They are the ones Jesus is sending to tell the world the Good News of the Gospel!
The breakdown of these verses is pretty simple. Jesus gives the disciples the internal power to complete His mission ... His plan. The Holy Spirit will come to specifically 'gift' those who are believers. In the Greek this gift is the result of an unconditional promise ... a summons to act ... something that comes down from God and 'happens' verses something that we control. The idea is much like creation in which God speaks everything into existence and it happens. Don't ever say you are not gifted or that you are unable to do what God's plan leads you to do. The power is there to either flow or be resisted. YOU are called/gifted.
The second passage is the sending that comes from Jesus himself. You (we) will be His witnesses. We are Plan A to achieve the mission of telling the Good News. There is no plan B. YOU are sent.
As we prepare for VBS (for the first time in many years) the theme of VBS will be "Who We Are." The VBS team talked about the Great Commission from Matthew 28 being our theme ("Go into all the world") but I wonder if Acts 1 might be more accurate ... ("You will be my witnesses ... 'everywhere').
In this passage God is speaking His witnesses ... His Church ... into existence. It is a gifted Church. It is a 'going' Church. You and I can be empowered and sent. Or ... we can decide that God's plan isn't so good. Just remember ... ALL disciples are empowered and sent. WE are a working Church. It is who we are!
Do you buy into God's plan? Then let Him gift you. Let Him send you. Let Him challenge you. Let Him stretch you. Let Him give you a life that you never thought possible! AMEN