The theme of this series of discussions has been "Connecting God and Work." In this session, we will consider the special work that Jesus called each of his followers to do. Jesus came proclaiming Good News about God. He said his mission was to seek and to save those who had lost their way. By his life, death and resurrection, he opened the way for all people to be reconciled to God. Finally, he said to his friends, "As the Father has sent me, so do I send you."
Inviting people to connect with God is the special calling of each follower of Jesus. It is a high privilege. "You are ambassadors of Christ," said the Apostle Paul. It is the duty of an ambassador to represent another – to do so in a compelling way and to live a life of integrity, which makes one a credible emissary.
- Borrowing the image of a court of law, Jesus also calls us to be his "witnesses." In a court room trial, what are the responsibilities and qualifications of a credible witness?
- Read Acts 1:6-8. After Jesus tells his followers what is not theirs to know, he then tells them what they must do.
- Why do you think Jesus begins with "you will receive power?"
- In what ways does the Holy Spirit empower the disciples, as Jesus' witnesses?
John 14:25-27 ___________________________________________________
John 15:26-27 ___________________________________________________
John 16:12-15 ___________________________________________________
Galatians 5:22-23 ________________________________________________
- In Acts 1:8, what is the significance of Jesus' referring to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth? (culture as well as geography)
It is the role of witnesses to give testimony about what they know and have experienced. Each time we bear witness to the truth of the Gospel and our experience of God's amazing love and forgiveness, we have no control over how a person might respond. In Athens, when the Apostle Paul gave witness to Christ, he got a very mixed response:
- Read Acts 17:32-34.
- What were some of the responses to Paul's testimony?
- What similarities or differences might you expect in response, as you seek to be Christ's witness?
The Apostle Peter gave the very first powerful witness for Christ, after the Holy Spirit was given in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14-36). God's Spirit had transformed him from cowardly and self-serving, to bold and Christ-honoring – and he suffered joyfully for it. Later, Peter writes to suffering Christians about their duty as witnesses.
- Read 1 Peter 3:14-15.
- What is Peter's "prescription" for the common ailment of fear?
- What does it mean for you to "be prepared," and how does that alleviate fear?
- Why is it important, as Peter suggests, that we offer testimony "with gentleness and respect?"
We cannot control what others might think of our witness concerning what Jesus means to us. We can, however, control how we articulate that witness – excellence of content delivered in a respectful way.
Changing the metaphor from courtroom to farmer's field, Jesus spoke of the need for many workers in God's harvest field.
- Read Matthew 9:35-38.
- What do you think Jesus meant by "the harvest is plentiful?"
- What do you think motivated Jesus' call for more workers?
- In light of the perpetual shortage of workers, why do you think Jesus said, "Ask the Lord of the harvest…," rather than, "Get to work on the harvest?"
God loves, God pursues, God forgives, God is always gathering – and he invites us to join him in his harvest. Whether it's in response to Christ's call to be his witnesses, or God's call to join him in his harvesting work, he has given us his Spirit to empower and enable us to do it well. Let the Holy Spirit move your heart as he did Jesus' heart:
"When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36)