This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
After Jesus had said this, he was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going, thy were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven.” – Acts 1:9-11 (Christian Standard Bible)
A once-popular phrase went: You shouldn’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good. On the one hand, that phrase misses the mark. In Colossians 3, Paul wrote that we’re to set our minds on the things above where Christ is. Doing so promotes the most earthly good in how we think about and treat others (3:1-17).
On the other hand, that phrase reminds us to not be like the first disciples in Acts 1.
Jesus had just spent the better part of three years teaching and training them. Then, to their dismay, he was arrested and crucified; but, to their great joy, he had risen from the dead and spent another 40 days appearing to them and teaching them. It was at this point, while with them, that Jesus ascended from earth into the sky.
He had just told them that soon the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and when he did, they were to go in the power of the Spirit and be witnesses about Jesus in all parts of the world.
Once he left their presence by rising upwards, however, the disciples must have stood around awestruck. Perhaps they even lingered a while, mouths agape, as they stared at the sky. It took two men in white (presumably angels) to shake them from the moment. And what was the message?
“You heard what Jesus told you to do, now go do it, don’t just stand there and stare.”
The simple lesson here is that we don’t have to wait for a word from God, a feeling in our gut, a sign of some kind, or the return of Jesus before we go do what he has already told us to do. As followers of Jesus, wherever we live, work, or play, God has given us his Holy Spirit and he has given us a mission–to share the love of Christ with those we encounter. When we fail to live on mission, whatever our excuse, we’re just like those eleven disciples who stared at the sky after Jesus told them what to do. So, where God has spoken, let us obey and let us live on mission without hesitation.