So, Thursday, May 5th was Ascension Day, a very important day in our Christian faith. It is celebrating Jesus’ ascension, 40 days after He gave His life to save us from our sins and 10 days before Pentecost, the day on which thousands were first filled with the Holy Spirit. It is no longer a public holiday in South Africa and therefore not recognized by our government but what prevents us, Christ followers, to celebrate it?
Oh don’t get me wrong, we were very busy, working hard and there was no silence among us on this Ascension Day, but I should have taken the lead and I didn’t.
This is not a self-imposed condemnation session either, but in the middle of the night, curled up in a nice warm bed, I had to check my heart.
What does the fact that Jesus’ love for me compelled Him to choose the Via Dolorosa and death on the cross mean to me? Am I really thankful for His salvation or has it become a “Get Out Of Hell Free” card? How much time do I spend in thanksgiving celebrating the Greatest Gift of Love?
Before Jesus’ ascension, He reminded us that He’s returning to heaven to prepare a place for us, BUT He will send us the Holy Spirit to comfort, counsel and guide us. He told us to wait until we are filled with the Holy Spirit because through His indwelling we will receive the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. He told us that with that Power in us, we need to go to the ends of the earth to make disciples, baptise them in the Name of the Father, Jesus Christ, and Holy Ghost, equip them to do likewise and send them out. That means getting out of our comfort zones, stepping out. How long are we going to wait? When are we going?
On my way home, the presenter on a local radio station shared how he felt convicted to take stock of his Christian walk. He challenged listeners to consider our spiritual obesity as we receive teaching, read the Word, receive prayer, listen to new Christian music, but unless we turn that spiritual food we take in, into energy that goes out to the lost and hurting world desperately seeking solutions only Christians have, it becomes fat that slows us down to eventually incapacitate us spiritually in the same way excess food and lack of exercise does to our physical body. I too am convicted.
How effective are we really? How am I taking the message of Jesus into the world to fill up heaven and empty hell?
Acts 1:8 is a humungous promise of the power of the Holy Spirit that will come over us to be Christ’s witnesses beyond Jerusalem (our comfort zone). Acts 8:1 on the other hand, is a loud wake-up call to us, the Body of Christ, of the persecution we will experience if we don’t bear witness, also known as disobedience.
Paul Washer preached a message about missions I encourage you to listen to. He states that we’re all called to missions. Imagine witnessing as a deep well. We are either the one going down into the well to shine the light of Christ or we are the ones holding the rope for those going down.
When I say how much I miss Indonesia and Singapore, people lovingly respond that we’re needed here. I don’t miss those places because I felt needed, but because I could shine my light in the darkness of the Red Light Districts. It’s not about me, but about those enchained in darkness.
Yesterday my friend’s gift, a copy of the documentary of the work in the Red Light District, arrived. So perfect on Ascension Day. Watching it filled my heart with joy and gratitude for the small contribution I was privileged to make. It also restored my vision to arise and shine. For too long I did not witness Christ in Samaria, Judea and the ends of the earth. No wonder I feel the growing pressure of persecution. God said it.
Be silent no more! Ascend! Ascend! Ascend!