Powerless Faith

Growing up in public school, I never received Easter Monday off from school. I will admit that it wasn’t out of reverence that I wanted Monday off, it was because like most kids I wanted an extra day to sleep in and gorge on Easter candy. After the fake grass had been cleaned up, every egg had been found, family had been visited with, ham had been eaten, golf had been watched, jelly beans had been recklessly consumed, and I was stuck trying to figure out how to store a white wicker basket for yet another year, I just wanted an extra days break. There is more though isn’t there? More than just a day off for reflection, more than just a Holiday celebrated? Easter marks the passing of the baton, where our time begins.

Eventually Easter is over… and with that, we are left to ask, “what now?” What does that really mean for me? Imagine what that was like the very first Easter Monday. There was a time when Jesus walked with the disciples, there was a time when he prayed with them, taught them, shared meals with them. He led them. And as he did so, a common refrain was voiced, “my time is now, and your time will come.” And now that time has come, the cross has been taken down, the stone in front of the tomb has been rolled away and we are looked upon and told, “go ahead, lets see what you’ve got.”

You have to imagine that they were a bit frightened, if not also confused. “Um, excuse me Jesus… remember how you told us to change the would, to convert people, to tell people about you… Why don’t you do it?” In the first century, if you were a Jew and yet you were not a Rabbi, it wasn’t because you thought being a tax collector came with more prestige. Only the best and the brightest got to be the religious leaders. So by the very fact that all of these guys had some sort of occupation other than being a rabbi – fishing, tax collecting, carpentry, etc. – we learn that they likely were at some point in their life told that they weren’t good enough for that work. They were skilled enough, they weren’t smart enough, and they couldn’t make it. And yet Jesus assembles these guys who the world said was not good enough and says, “I’m out, you guys got this!”

So we find these 12 guys sticking together in Jerusalem. All of the sudden: chaos. Winds are blowing, it seems like there is an electric light show, I’m sure the 12 guys were concerned, maybe some of them frightened, yelling, and surprised. They had been so filled by this Holy Spirit that those who heard them speak together accused them of being drunk. I think this is kind of funny to imagine. Here are 12 guys committed to following Jesus, they are commissioned to start the church… and the first thing that is said about them is that they must be drunk. I have not ever been accused of being intoxicated while in church. Or imagine that situation reversed and people started walking into bars in the area and saying, “oh, they must be some disciples.”

And so what now? Jesus said they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit, but what does that mean, and what should they do?

About one third of the world claims some sort of Christian belief. Isn’t that staggering? Over two billion people on earth today claim to have a faith in Jesus Christ, and yet it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when it wasn’t two billion, not two million, not even two hundred, but just twelve. What if these guys had sat in that room and aid, the world says we are not good enough, maybe we aren’t?

With over one third of the world’s population claiming to be Christian, shouldn’t our world look a bit different? It doesn’t take more than a flip to the local news station or a trip to your nearest major city to be hit with the realities of the world we live in. People die from a lack of thins that many of us waste out of surplus. Many suffer from treatable diseases, or go without shelter unnecessarily. There is war, slavery, famine, violence, greed, etc. And I can’t help but ask, if twelve guys can change the world, why can’t over two billion of us?

Although it may be hard to admit, maybe we feel like we can’t make a difference either. We may feel like we don’t have enough money or prestige. We aren’t nearly smart enough or don’t have enough time. We don’t have the inspiration. Maybe we are just too afraid of failing. We sit with those twelve guys and we wonder, “wait, you mean I am supposed to change the world? That can’t be right, you have the wrong person. I am not good enough.”

We are afraid that this faith that we proclaim is actually powerless. We celebrate on Easter that Jesus has altered the course of history while simultaneously forgetting he has called us to continue his legacy. Yet we still wonder, perhaps quietly, is the faith that we have really powerless?

They were a group of guys where were tired of watching how faith did nothing but make the rich richer and the poor poorer. They were tired of watching how people who claimed to follow God stood by and judged those who needed him. They were tired of people saying one thing and doing another and so they took the biggest risk they could have possibly taken with their lives and they decided to trust who God said he was, and they truly believed that if God was for them, no one could be against them.

What would you do if you were so bold to imagine that God had authored for you to change the world? If you truly believed that you were created to have a lasting impact on the world around you, how would you approach each day? We were so entrusted with the commission to change the world that God empowered us to do it. 12 guys… 2.13 billion people… Its not as if there isn’t a role for us to play, or nothing left to be done. Maybe we are just all to comfortable sitting in our room, thankful for what’s been done for us but not willing to talk the next step. Maybe we are too worried people won’t understand us or call us crazy or drunk. Or maybe we just think we aren’t good enough. Get over it. We aren’t good enough. That’s what makes Easter so remarkable. God turns the world’s expectations on their heads. He looks to those no one would expect and says, “Wait till the world sees what I will do through you.”

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