The Advent Part 10
Acts 1:6, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
After the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus His disciples felt the need to be together. There are some within theological circles who have criticized this need for belonging as being infantile and childish, putting forth various hypothesis from accusing the disciples of dragging their feet when it came to the great commission, to them being unsure as to whether or not they would be able to faithfully carry out the duty that they’d been given. Personally I believe they were just being obedient to the command of Christ, to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power, and their being together was more the doing of the Holy Spirit, leading them and compelling them toward this end rather than their own personal need for fellowship.
Fellowship within a body of believers is important, because it leads to the requisite unity within that body. Due to lack of true fellowship among the brethren, many churches and congregations are disjointed, purposeless, absent of vision, each attempting to go his own way, and do his own thing, getting nowhere and growing perpetually frustrated with their lack of progress. The disciples were being prepared, melded and molded together to become that one body, that united amalgam of members, that would only be accentuated and emphasized once the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon them.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, each individually unique, each eerily similar, like snowflakes on a cold winter’s morning. Too often we shrug off fellowship because we cannot find others who agree with us regarding every minute and infinitesimal detail, we bypass integration within a body of believers, overlooking the fact that we ought to be the body of Christ, united in purpose, committed to Him, laboring on behalf of His kingdom.
Given enough time every one of you that has ever read anything I’ve written will find something to disagree with in something I’ve said. You will find something in the teachings I present that you see from a different angle, that you perceive through a different prism, perhaps something small and insignificant, and it is often that we become so consumed and obsessed with one piece of the puzzle that we lose sight of the whole.
I’ve had people write me off as a heretic because I wear a wedding band, others because when it’s hot outside I sometimes wear shorts, and all I can do when something like this happens is pray for them, and hope in my heart that their critical spirit will abate, and that they will one day, someday, be humble enough to realize that anyone else could just as readily find fault in them, whether perceived or real, and judge them as harshly as they’ve judged me.
The point I’m trying to make, is that we need fellowship. We like to think ourselves lone wolves, but in reality, if we choose to bypass fellowship we are lone sheep, and a lone sheep is easy prey. Some have even found fellowship and formed friendships through this weblog, others through our ministry, but wherever you find it, fellowship is a necessary and integral part of the Christian experience, one that will help us grow and mature in the faith.
From what we understand from scripture this meeting wherein the Disciples of Christ asked if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel was the last face to face meeting they had with Him before the ascension.
Luke 24:50-51, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”
Even though Jesus had been speaking to them concerning the Kingdom of God, the disciples were still fixated on an earthly kingdom. Since they had not as yet received the Holy Spirit, their thinking did not differ much from that of the average Jew. They waited for an earthly Messiah, a warrior prince, who would come and restore the kingdom to Israel, who would push back the enemies of God’s people, and who would bring about justice in the physical. They only saw the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God within the context and framework of the Jewish people, here on earth, and in their limited understanding the Messiah was supposed to free Israel from the heavy yoke of Roman oppression, make Jerusalem the capital of a new kingdom, and appoint them as leaders and ambassadors of this kingdom.
Absent the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are likewise inclined to adopt the mindset of those around us, just as the disciples were influenced and ultimately perceived the work of Christ through the prism of the men of their time. Tradition dictated that the Messiah would come and establish a kingdom on earth, tradition dictated that He would be a great warrior and unifier of the people, and so influenced by tradition the disciples asked Jesus what many would rightly deduce was a foolhardy question. They had been witness to His ministry, they had heard His teaching, they had seen the miracles He performed, they ought to have realized that Jesus wasn’t interested in building up an army in the natural, they ought to have realized that swords and spears and bows and arrows were useless in the spiritual battle that was to come, they ought to have realized that their calling was not to live in palaces and wear fine linen, but to preach and to live and to suffer and to die for the cause of Christ, yet with all the things they ought to have known, they still asked Jesus if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel.
The worthwhile lesson to be learned from this exchange between the disciples and Christ, is that it is we who lose out when we attempt to force the beautiful truths of God into the molds that we’ve fashioned from our own earthly convictions, the presuppositions we’ve contrived from our own denominations, or the conclusions we’ve allowed others to come to on our behalf regarding God and the things of God.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.