We are commissioned to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth. That’s a tall order! Are we each to bring the gospel to far-off lands? More likely we are commissioned to be Jesus’ witnesses in our families, neighborhoods, churches, schools, and workplaces. We each have a contribution to make toward transforming injustices in Jesus’ name. We each have a unique gift, an insight, a challenge, a comfort. We each have a question that probes thoughtfully and prayerfully, prompting collaborative research into the causes of oppression, racism, militarism, sexism, consumerism, terrorism, and more. The Holy Spirit pulses within us as we do our part in caring for God’s creation, finding best practices, planning practical approaches, and ministering to the common good—all because we are Jesus’ witnesses. Jesus empowers us with the Holy Spirit, who helps us learn how and when to act and what actions are needed.
Does being Jesus’ witnesses require us to focus on other people’s individual salvation, or can we be more effective witnesses by focusing on trying to be the most compassionate person we can be with the help of the Holy Spirit? After all, we are called and gifted to love one another as we cope with the joys, struggles, and sorrows of life. I think of our refugee resettlement team. They witness by finding safe apartments and helping our newest neighbors apply for work, master bus routes, and learn how to live in our community.
Remembering Jesus’ ways and words will cushion our falls, inform our conscience, and build our integrity. Spending time with scripture and with our community in prayer and service are foundational to congruent faith witness. Recall Jesus’ words: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”
Dear Jesus, help us to know your words and ways so well that we grow in the ability to become credible witnesses of your love. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives, especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow that advice—with disastrous results. In Acts, the apostles seek to replace Judas with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. First John reminds us that God’s words are trustworthy above all. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
Read Acts 1:1-11. How do you experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How does the Spirit guide you?
Read Psalm 1. Who are the people around you who exhibit the strength and fruitfulness of those described in this psalm?
Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart? How do you live differently as a result?
Read John 17:6-19. What helps you to sense God’s presence and protection in your life?
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