Jesus was about to return to his Father in heaven. Those who had been his closest followers wondered about the future. They were still operating with the mindset that Jesus was about to set up an earthly government or organization. They still were thinking in political terms. They still needed to learn that Jesus’ kingdom was something totally different, and that they were to be involved in building it.
Acts 1:6-8 ESV
So, when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 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.”
As Luke tells Theophilus at the beginning of the book of Acts, the Gospel that he had previously written was about “all that Jesus began to do and teach,” and the current book – the Acts of the Apostles – takes the story further, into all the Jesus continued to do and teach by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. Although Jesus was returning to heaven, the work of building his Kingdom was still to go on, through the apostles – and through all who followed them – which includes you and me and every other person for the last 2000 years who has followed Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus is still working, building his Kingdom through the witness of his disciples.
Jesus said that the work was to begin “in Jerusalem,” proceed into “all Judea and Samaria,” and reach “the end of the earth.” Jesus strategy was to start local, then work outward until the message had been heard by everyone around the world. It doesn’t take long to realize that God has brought the world to our doorstep. As David Henderson, Director of College Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, recently wrote to his church family:
Students from all over the country and world – around 45,000 students – attend university in our city. That’s 45,000 individual stories of excitement and fear about being off on their own, for perhaps the first time. It is also 45,000 individual stories of the effects of the fall and the need for the hope and power of redemption in Christ Jesus. Every year we hear stories of students who realize their need for salvation, who find hope in the midst of addiction, who see their lives transformed in one way or another. Each of these stories of transformation have one thing in common: the Gospel has changed their lives through the Word of God and the people of God.
But it’s not just at the local universities. God has brought the nations to our neighborhoods, and God has given the Grace Chapel family wonderful and strategic opportunities to get involved in “kingdom building.” The Scooter Scott Project provides many opportunities for ministry through tutoring at-risk students, providing food for needy students and families, helping people obtain a GED, and more. Each Christmas, we provide gifts and Gospel encouragement through OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD and our “Angel Tree” for local needy families. And each of us know neighbors and friends and co-workers and fellow students who need the hope and power and redemption of Jesus Christ.
As we reach out to those in need in our “Jerusalem” – Columbia, Cayce, Gaston, Sandy Run, Lexington, Red Bank, Pelion, West Columbia, Swansea, Springdale – we are joining Jesus in the work he is doing of building his Kingdom. We are obeying the command of God to love and serve our neighbor, to making disciples of all the nations, and to give to others of the grace and mercy that we have received from God.