“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)
Yesterday, I preached from Acts 9:32-43 about living on mission for God. This morning, I was reminded of something the Lord had impressed on my heart a few weeks ago from Acts 1:8, and since it dovetails with yesterday’s message, I thought I would share it today.
Acts 1:8 is the key verse for the book of Acts, and a key verse for every church that has ever existed since. Here, Jesus describes the purpose of the church and the focus of the Christian life: to be filled with the Holy Spirit and receive His power to live as a witness for Christ in all the world. We could reflect on what it means to be filled with the Spirit or what Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth mean for us today–and maybe we will in another devo. But what the Lord prompted me with recently was the word be.
Jesus didn’t say, “You will receive power… to witness,” but rather, “You will receive power… to be my witnesses…” This is not the power to do, but the power to be, which is fundamentally greater. Anyone can do, but only Spirit-empowered disciples can be. I can make myself do an act of kindness every day, but it doesn’t mean I am a kind person. I can force myself to give all I have to the poor, but it doesn’t mean I am a generous person. I can wear a sandwich-board sign that says, “Turn or burn,” and stand on the street corner handing out gospel tracts, but it doesn’t mean I am a witness for Jesus.
There is a world of difference between doing and being. One is about tasks, the other identity. I have found that when my identity is what it needs to be, I end up living out that identity and doing what I need to do. If witnessing for Christ is what I do, then there are places in my life where I take off the witness hat, clock out, and go home. But if a witness for Christ is who I am, then I am never off the clock. I’m not just checking off a box on my be a good Christian list. If being a witness is my identity, then everywhere I go, in whatever I do, with whomever I’m with, I am living out that identity. It’s not something I do; it’s who I am.
Has your relationship with God changed who you are, not just what you do? My prayer for the week is that the Holy Spirit will fill us all with the power to be for Jesus.