|Be My WITNESS!|
Charity begins at home!" thundered a longstanding member of an activity-oriented church. "Why should we bother about the people outside the church when the believers in our own churches are suffering from many maladies themselves?"
Evangelism has been relegated to second place (or should I say the last place) in many churches these days. Sharing the Gospel is not priority! We are involved in serving people in the Name of God. We have no time to talk about Jesus with those who have not heard about Him. We are saved, satisfied and sound asleep when we should actually be saved, satisfied and serving! Unfortunately, we quarrel about who or what the Holy Spirit is and should be doing, instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in our lives. Why and how did we arrive at this sad situation? Let's get back to the Word and look at the early church.
In Acts 1:8, we read, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."(KJV) This verse has never failed to challenge me.
Let's look at the context. Jesus had already ascended into heaven after fulfilling the will of the Father. His followers, in obedience to the command of their Master, were assembled in Jerusalem, waiting for the "promise of the Father.”(Acts 1:4).
There must have been an air of expectation in the atmosphere. In Acts 1: 14 we read that they continued in "one accord in prayer and supplication..." Then an extra ordinary 'election' took place and Matthias was chosen to replace Judas. In the fullness of time, on the day of Pentecost, all who were gathered were filled with the Holy Ghost.
The excitement in Paul’s report carries a pulsating power with it. People from other regions, who heard Jesus' followers speaking in tongues were amazed and astonished because, "every man heard them speak in his own language." (Acts 2:7) and they spoke among themselves saying, "Behold, are not these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" (Acts 2:8) The account goes on to list the people groups who were present at that time. What were they speaking? They were speaking about "the wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:11b). While some bystanders wondered about how this could happen, others mocked them and said, ''These men are full of new wine." (Acts 2:13)
Baptized and inspired by the Holy Spirit, the early church spoke about the wonderful works of God. Listening to them, the people from other regions heard this message in their own language. What a wonderful experience it must have been. I feel sad to move away from that day back to 2004 to look at the condition of the church today. Somehow, the freshness and vitality is missing. The thrill and the "let's get going" attitude is absent. We seem to be looking inward and at each other instead of looking God-ward and outward. It looks as if we are concerned about each other's "specks" instead of taking care of the "logs" that hinder God's blessing in our lives and ministry. We seem to "use" the Holy Spirit to foster disunity amongst ourselves instead of allowing Him to work in our lives. What a sad commentary!
Going back to Acts 1:8, our Lord Jesus declared, "...after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem..." The work of the Holy Spirit is to make us witnesses. Who is a witness? A witness is one who has seen and heard and experienced something first hand. He or she is an authority on what they have experienced. They should be able to give a First Information Report (FIR) on what they experienced. This is not true about the Church today, isn't it? We claim to be witnesses, having come to a personal, saving knowledge of the salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. We claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit which brings us' together… but we remain disunited.
Where do we go from here? Simple! Be witnesses! In other words, be missionaries. Spread the Word about Jesus. You do not have to leave your “Jerusalem” to be a missionary. At the same time, if God calls you to work in a “secular setting” bloom where you are planted. You will be called upon to support missionary endeavours which are of equal importance. Let’s allow Him to make us the witnesses He wants us to be.