So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:6-9
Right before Jesus ascended to the Father in Acts 1:6-9, He gave His followers the Great Commission, seen also in Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus had lived, died and now handed off His mission to His followers. In this mission hand-off, He told them that they were to be witnesses of His life, death and resurrection to the world. He told them they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. To them, that meant they were to bear witness to Him in the whole world.
What is very intriguing is that Jesus sent them on this Great Commission adventure starting right from where they were. Jesus commissioned them to first be witnesses of Him in Jerusalem. That is right where they were. They had not yet gone anywhere, but instead were hanging out in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the first place to be His witness, to tell of His life, death and resurrection.
So often we get caught dreaming of mission trips or “doing God’s work” but all in the context of overseas missions, or missions in other towns or socio-economic settings. Don’t get me wrong, overseas missions is vitally important. In fact, for many of the disciples, “Samaria and to the ends of the earth” would have been just like an overseas mission trip. But first, Jesus wanted to them to bear witness to Him right where they were.
Did Jesus use a GPS? Wasn’t His plan to change the world? Why should they start right where they were? It’s hard to change the world if you can’t get out of your own neighborhood. But, perhaps that is the point. Jesus wants us to love, serve and share about Him with those right in our lives here and now. Jesus knew His geography and He knew He wanted His followers to share His life first right where they were. Kyle McClennan in his book, Mea Culpa: Learning from Mistakes in the Ministry, says it this way, “The gospel is lived out in particular places. It is not an abstract philosophical concept. It calls us to love God and love neighbor. Not our neighbor in theory, but actual people.”
We are called to love, serve and share Jesus’ life with real people. We are called by God to love real neighbors, real friends, real co-workers, real family members right where we live, move and have our daily life.
This past Sunday, Tim Henderson preached on 2 Corinthians 4:7-15. An important focal point of this passage is Paul’s calling to “believe in Jesus Christ and then to speak of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:13). God has placed each of us in apartment complexes, in homes, in neighborhoods, in jobs, in hobbies, in car lines, in Kroger check-out lanes, YMCAs, at the gym, at pools, in book clubs, with real people. These real places are filled with real people that make up our Jerusalem. These people are the local, real people that we are called to love, serve and bear witness to about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe in Jesus and so we speak of Jesus.
This week, pray and ask God, “God, who do you want me to love, serve and bear witness to about Jesus?” Ask, “God, who in my local, everyday life can I share Christ with?”