[Jesus said] "... you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8 TNIV).
Have you ever thought ...
how crazy these words are?
how unbelievable this promise is?
how impossible this dream for these very flawed people truly is?
I remember many years ago reading in one of Barclay's commentaries an imaginary discussion between the angels of heaven and Jesus as he ascended back into heaven to be with the Father. This imaginary discussion went something like this:
Gabriel: Jesus, why are you coming back to heaven now? These folks aren't ready for you to leave. You know how flawed and fickle they are! You know how weak and easily distracted they can be! How is the world ever going to know about the cost you paid and the victory you won? What's your plan to keep all of your hard work, your crucifixion and resurrection, from being wasted?
Jesus: They are my plan. These people are my plan!
Michael: Not to be disrespectful Lord, but you've gotta be kidding me! Look at them. You know what they're like. Surely there's another plan if these people fail. Surely! What's your plan B?
Jesus: They are my plan. There is no plan B!
Jesus gave us a glimpse of this plan from the moment that he called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him (Matthew 4:18-22). From that moment on, Jesus made clear that he was going to call real people, everyday folks, to come be around him and experience God firsthand. As we read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we get a clear picture of the kinds of people Jesus would touch and then send out to touch others. They weren't fake or overly religious. Yet they weren't anti-religious or intentionally evil. They didn't fit any particular category. They were rich and poor, helpless and powerful, sick and well, young and old, oppressed and influential.
You see, when Jesus chose partners in his "fishing for people" initiative, he chose real folks ... like you and me. Folks that would make mistakes, get things confused, have bad days, mess up quite a bit, and sometimes lose sight of his power and see their faith take a dip every once-in-awhile. But, Jesus promised that if they would live for him, share his story, and help others come to know him, then he would never leave them (Matthew 28:18-20) and that he would do unbelievable things through them (Acts 1:8).
Jesus has called us to follow him and be his fishing buddies. He knows what he is getting with us — a mixed bag of virtues and vices, strengths and weaknesses, as well as confusion and clarity. But he wants us — you and me! He wants to take his flawed fishing buddies and use them to reach others just like us. It's why he came and why he called us to follow him!
We are his plan. There is no plan B!
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:1-10).
The following questions are for your own self-reflection, discussion in a small group, or use in your house church. I would love to hear your insights or responses on my blog, as well, where you can find an interesting video related to this topic as well: http://bit.ly/dBomYf
Read through the last passage in the article above (Ephesians 2:1-10), and think about how the movement from "dead" to "grace" to "handiwork" is the story of the life of Peter ... Mary Magdalene ... of yourself.
- How did that movement help the early followers of Jesus live as his witnesses to others?
- How can this realization help you be a witness to Jesus?
Why do you think it was important for Jesus to choose "ordinary" people to be with him and then go out and be witnesses to others of the difference that he made in their lives? (Acts 4:13)
What are some of the things the devil places in your head and heart to try to keep you from believing you have anything to share with others about Jesus?
- How could Peter have used the same excuse in his life?
- How could Mary Magdalene have used the same excuse in her life?
How does it make you feel to know that you are Jesus' plan to touch the world with his grace?
How do you think that early bunch of Jesus' followers felt when they realized that they were his only plan?
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