Most of us are familiar with Acts 1:8, where the risen Jesus announces – just before His ascension into heaven: “You will be my witnesses!” We know, on the one hand, that we’re supposed to be witnesses for Christ. On the other hand, we’re not always sure what that’s supposed to look like in real life.
Jesus had already promised an empowerment by the Holy Spirit that believers could expect, and upon which they would be dependent for living the Christian life. John the Baptist had promised (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16) such an abiding presence of the Spirit of Christ in the lives of believers. Christ underscores our God-dependence in Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you!” So we know that living as a viable witness for Jesus – in this world – will not be accomplished by human strength.
That realization of our own finiteness (and our own finite capacities) sometimes feels like a tough pill for us to swallow. It’s not that we disagree with the concept theologically – for the most part – but it’s that we don’t often realize when we’ve wandered from God-dependence into self-dependence. It kind of just happens, and happens all too quickly.
I think there may be some spiritual parallels between pushing back the waters of a formidable river (vis-à-vis the Paducah project) and overcoming the obstacles to our living as winsome witnesses for our Savior and Lord. I’ll list just a few (they’re self-explanatory in light of John 15:1-6) for your prayerful consideration.
- We’re in way over our heads.
- Whether we step in or jump in, we can expect a few surprises.
- Our progress may not be immediately visible.
- We must keep our eyes on the goal.
- We should celebrate every victory (whether large or small) along the way.
- Opposing currents are rarely fun, but they produce strength and wisdom in those who persevere.
- We can’t do it alone.
It’s that last thought that I most want to leave you with today. Not as a discouragement, by any means, but as a reminder to stay intimately connected with the One who is our life, our strength, and our joy.