Imagine the risen Lord standing in your presence. You saw Him hanging on the cross, you watched Him draw His last breath. But now, now He stands before you. Jesus who had died, alive and teaching once again.
Acts 1:8 shares the final recorded words to His apostles before the ascension, “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 ends of the earth.” Then, “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 1:9).
I’m going to put myself there. I’m going to watch this man, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God as he is lifted up, carried by a cloud, out of my sight. And as I watch in awe as He ascends, I hear the words, “You, Kelsey, will be my witness” still ringing in my ears.
You try it. Close your eyes. Let go of reality and imagine this ascension. Put your name in there. Listen to your Savior say, “You, _____, will be my witness.”
The glory and splendor of the ascension almost overshadows the power of those final words to the apostles. Don’t let them. Focus with me for a minute on those words. Let them resound in your ears and sink deep in your heart.
Notice that Christ says you will be my witnesses. He doesn’t say, try to be my witnesses or I command you to be my witnesses or some of you might be my witnesses. He says you will be.
You see, if we are followers of Christ, we are His witnesses. It’s automatic. When we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart, we are saved (Romans 10:9). In that same moment, we become His witnesses. As the outside world looks at us, they develop opinions about Christ. Our actions, inactions, and interactions show the world what it looks like to be a follower of the Lord. In the grocery store, stuck in traffic, cheering in the stands, at work, and at home – we are His witnesses. The world is listening to our conversations; they’re reading our social media posts. Those words influence their opinions of what Christ sounds like. This witness thing isn’t a mission trip we sign up for or an agreement to share the gospel at an outreach event. No. This is a daily, ordinary-life kind of witness. Christ tells us in this verse that we will be His witnesses — whether we intend to or not.
Do you feel the pressure? The weight of being a witness.
Before the weight of witnessing crushes you, re-read this verse. Start from the beginning. Notice that before Christ tells us we will be His witnesses, He tells us what we will receive: the power of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t leave us to be witnesses under our own strength. Instead, He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to bear the burden. So just when we feel that we’re not good enough, when we’ve failed again in our words and actions, we can turn to the Holy Spirit living within. We can confess our weaknesses and be made strong in Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit, each day we can work to be more like Christ.
I am the first to admit, I am far from perfect. While I can write about my faith through this screen with relative ease, sometimes words fail me in actual conversations. Sometimes the example I set is not the image of Christ. But, every single time, my Lord receives me with grace and forgiveness. He strengthens me with His Spirit and gives me a new day with new mercy. And with each new day comes new opportunity to be a witness for Him.
Christ tells the apostles that they will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. I am relatively certain that I will never make it to Jerusalem. I doubt even the power of the internet will take my words to Judea and Samaria. And I’m pretty sure the ends of the earth are a little out of reach for me. To His apostles, He says Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria. To us, I believe Christ is saying, you will be my witnesses in your family and among your friends, in your community and your workplace, and in places you never thought you could reach.
Yes, your immediate sphere of influence is limited, but God’s power is not. Friends, you are His witness each and every day. You touch, influence, and reach lives even when you don’t see it. Yes, you are only one person limited by geography, but you are a witness to a God who knows no limits. He has been using you, He is using you, and He will continue to use you. You will be His witness.