Acts 1:8 Sets Our Focus Outwardly

In Acts 1:8, Jesus is giving final instructions to his disciples and in these last words he reminds them of where their eyes should focused. Jesus says, “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 end of the earth.”

Now what is interesting about verse 8 is that it begins with the words “but” meaning Jesus was making a constrasting statement. Right before the comissioning statement of verse 8, the disciples had asked Jesus a question. They were wondering if now God was going to restore the kingdom of Israel. They were still think about the life and mission of Christ both from a national standpoint and a physical standpoint. They didn’t see themselves on a spiritual mission to go and proclaim the Gospel. They still had an inward outlook when it came to being a disciple of Christ.

And so Jesus says I don’t want you to be concerned about the timing of the restoration of Israel “but” I want you to be focused on the mission of Christ. And in verse 8 he sets their focus and at the same time he sets our focus.

“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 end of the earth.”

Sometimes this verse makes us think about missions or evangelism from a chronological perspective. Start at home and move outward. But that is not the point of verse 8. The point is to give us an outlook that the gospel goes outward. I am to be a witness and that role of witnessing moves me out. His words make sure that I am not remaining still. I am not content to stay where I am at. But we are called into a mission that takes us beyond where are currently are. It takes me beyond my home to my neighbor’s home. It takes me beyond my circle of family to be people outside my circle. It takes me beyond my Christian gatherings out into a world that does not know Christ.

Too often we create a Christian culture and a church culture that can keep us huddled together with other Christians and away from the world. We maintain and protect schedules and routines that neatly and comfortably keep us connected with those who we know and who think and believe what we believe. We live a life that is safe within our own boundaries.

And yet Acts 1:8 calls us beyond our boundaries. Beyond our comfort. Jesus was reminding them they have a mission that is going to call them out beyond the comfortable relationships of the disciples and their families.

The purpose of this verse is not to say, “well, some stay in Jersalem and some will go to Judea and some will go to the ends of the earth. And as long I know that others are going to the ends of the earth then I can be content remaining where I am.” But Jesus is saying that as a disciple of Jesus I must enter into the misson of Christ setting my sights on being a witness to the ends of the earth. Does that mean I will end up going to some distant country? It might be. When we set our sets outward God will take us into his mission outward which includes distant countries. When God calls someone to a different country it normally begins with a heart that has given itself to be used by God wherever he leads.

But when we set our eyes outward, it could be that God is going to lead you to someone at your workplace. At the gas station. At your school. But the only way we are going to be witnesses to people beyond our circle is when we recognize that we have been called beyond our circle.

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