Change Your World
But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
Just before Jesus ascended into a cloud, He had some final words for His followers: a promise and a directive. In a few days, He told them, a monumental moment would occur. He had told them about it a few week before, and now it was going to be a reality. The Holy Spirit was going to enter each of them and take up residence there! No longer would God be at arm’s length. He would live inside them.
The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, but He could also be called the Generator because He supplies power for believers to follow Christ’s directions and change the world. Jesus told those first disciples that they would represent Him as His ambassadors, first in Jerusalem; then in the surrounding areas; and, finally to the remotest corners of the globe.
Jesus gives us the same promise and directive today. If we have trusted in Christ, His Spirit now lives inside us to comfort us, guide us, and give us power to do what God wants us to do. And what, exactly does He want us to do? He has given us the incredible honor of representing Him in our families and neighborhoods, in our workplaces, and at school. He has given us the power to pray, to give, and to reach the world for Christ.
Are you ready to change your world?
The Great Commission is not an option to be considered, it is a command to be obeyed.
I’m going to make an assumption that the answer to the question of whether you think the world needs change would be yes. The following questions are the following: If the world needs change, who can change it? If the world needs change and we are willing to be the ones, how will we change it? If we would be willing and knew how, where would we find the power to bring it about? Those questions would be no different than what was no doubt in the minds of the disciples who were with Jesus on the Mount of Ascension. They had been given a directive- the same one we have been given. “Go into the world and make disciples.” They must have looked at each other the same way we do when we hear those words of command. To their credit, they didn’t consider the directive an option. Sometimes we in the modern church think that Jesus gave the Great Suggestion as an option for a few to carry out while most of the church watches from the bleachers. But Jesus gave us a command so explicit that it only leaves us two options- obey or disobey. The answer to the “Who” question must be us. Our responses must be the response of Isaiah, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!” No other answer will do. We can’t say, “Lord send someone else,” when God has specifically called us-you and I. The answer to the “How” question is that we wait on the Holy Spirit. This is not idling or floating or sitting in inaction. This is a serious seeking direction from the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, our Helper and Guide. If you want to know how well this works, consult the book of Acts and read how that church fared. Faced with extreme challenges and no knowledge of how they-Galilean fishermen could impact a world governed by a religious system that strongly opposed this new way of living- the same system that pushed for the crucifixion of their Lord, and the governing Roman Empire that had carried out that crucifixion. An we think we have challenges today! So they listened and obey Jesus command to stay in Jerusalem and to wait in prayer on the promise of God. During the wait, they decided that what was missing was the twelfth disciple so they had a meeting and elected him. But nothing happened until they waited on the action of God. I’m sure it never entered their imagination that God would supernaturally give them the ability to proclaim the goodness of God in languages they didn’t know. I don’t get the impression that they had a clue about what God was going to do in them and through them. And I think that neither do we.
The third question after finding the answer to “Who” and “How” is the question of ability? Where do we find the power, wisdom, or knowledge to carry out what God has called us to? Christ answered that question by saying, “You will receive power…”
So here we have the plan. The final question is “When.” When we we get tired of declining churches, ineffective ministries, and lukewarm worship? When will our desire to see our world change become so strong that it moves us to seek the Promise of the Father? When will the horror of the destiny of the lost move us with such compassion that we earnestly cry out to God to use us as His ambassadors to carry the good news of the offer of redemption of sinners? When we choose to tap into the power that God has offered us through the Holy Spirit to live holy and to witness powerfully? We could be like the disciples in Acts 1 and try to replicate the old model that has no power or effectiveness or we could choose to be like the disciples in Acts 2 and ask God to visit us with the Holy Spirit and empower us to become world changers, community changers, church changers, family changers and to be changed ourselves more into the image of Christ.
So how about it? Are you willing to stop talking about the need for change and become an instrument of change? If so why not stop right now and ask God to give you the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s what the disciples did and you see how they turned out.
Dr. John Thompson