Come on over!
I wasn’t raised in the Mexican culture. I know: shocker. Looking at my bronzed picture, it’s hard to believe I’m just a white dude, but it’s true. And my first exposure “up close and personal” to the Mexican culture was when we lived in Northern California.
I kept wondering why our neighbors would come home and open their garage door and leave it open. It seemed so strange to not close it after one got home from a hard day’s work. It would stay open for hours…how bizarre.
Then, I asked a friend who was Mexican. You know what he said? An open garage door was an invitation to “come on over”! Really?!? Wow! How cool! Our neighbor was telling the neighborhood we were invited to come over and hang out.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned there.
We’ve been in this passage for a while now. Most of us don’t examine too many passages to this degree but I feel it’s worthwhile. We’ve talked about passions and power and how to direct those towards Jesus’ mission for us. Today, we start walking all that out. Let’s look at Acts 1:6-8 again:
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”
After the Apostles received this power (a power we have the moment we accept the gift of grace in our lives) Jesus told them, “you will be my witnesses…”
A witness is someone who affirms or attests to something. It definitively has legal overtones. What are we witnesses of? We are witnesses to the message of God in our lives.
The stakes are high, brothers and sisters. The world is watching. The world doesn’t need paid endorsers; we need satisfied customers! Yes, the world needs satisfied customers of the saving power of Jesus Christ who are witnesses!
Patty (my wife) and I were watching a television show awhile back and the show was about seeing how far people would go for money. In this episode, the people were asked to endorse a product that they were led to believe was dangerous. In getting paid for being an endorser of this product, they had to say how wonderful it was (when they were led to believe it was dangerous) and what a good value it was (when they really thought it was a waste of money). Many of the people lied and endorsed the product because it was their “job” and they were paid to do it.
In the Christian life, we can be guilty of doing the same thing: we give “lip service” to Jesus and the Kingdom but all the world sees in us is a hypocrite. This is NOT what the Kingdom of Heaven needs on earth. We must be genuinely satisfied “customers” of what grace can do and we must speak from that. We aren’t witnesses because we MUST be, we are witnesses because we can’t HELP but BE.
We’re witnesses first where we live—our Jerusalem.
In the Jewish heart, Jerusalem was the “city of God” and looking at its history and future, this is a true statement. They were to give an account of Jesus Christ in the city where they would spend so much time. They may have had homes elsewhere, but Jerusalem was in their hearts. It was their “home away from home”.
Our Jerusalem is very often our neighborhoods—it’s where we live. It’s our neighborhoods. What are you doing to attest of the grace given to you in your neighborhood? Are you a witness where you live? How can you show them the love of Jesus? How can you help them with the Good News?
Perhaps you can just “open the garage door” every once in awhile and let your neighbors see the real you. Let them see being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect or immune from problems. By your open life, show them how you love “Jerusalem”.
“Let them sacrifice thank offerings”, Psalm 107:19 tells us, “and tell of his works with songs of joy.”
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