This was no different with the early disciples. Once they recovered from the shock of seeing the resurrected Jesus, they returned to their preconceived agenda: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). It’s a natural question, as so much of their faith history was centered upon the physical kingdom of Israel. But Jesus was doing much more than restoring the kingdom to Israel, He was establishing his own kingdom. Their faith wasn’t to be established upon knowing when something would happen in the future. Their faith was to be established upon Christ’s work. Therefore, the last words of Jesus to his disciples were about their task to be his “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” and about how they would be equipped to do it: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Then Jesus ascended into heaven, completing his work on earth.
We live in the time between the ascension of Jesus to heaven and his triumphant return one day in the future. We have the same task and the same empowerment. We may have different questions for Jesus – “Lord, will you at this time restore my relationships/job/health/ marriage/children/church?”. But he has the same answer. As believers in Jesus, we are empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit to build the church and be witnesses for Jesus in this day. Our daily concerns are very real, but they are not the end goals. Knowing what we are ultimately called to do helps us to endure when our circumstances are dark and difficult and when our circumstances are happily distracting. We are witnesses to the life-changing power of the gospel in each season of life, and we are empowered by grace to stand firm even in the most confusing and tragic times.
The Lord is building his church and advancing his kingdom. We know he has a purpose, even when our limited perspectives don’t allow us to trace those purposes in our circumstances. The Three-in-One God has given himself to us and promises to never leave us; the Father ordains our lives for good, the Son has completed his sacrifice on our behalf, and the Spirit has been given to us as a guarantee of our inheritance. That knowledge is more than enough for today. We can trust him for our tomorrows.
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