How did they do it? How did they “turn the world upside down?” How did an eclectic blend of fishermen, tax collectors, ruffians, and other “uneducated” folk transform one of the most powerful empires in history and continues to restore hearts and minds through every culture it touches in the world today?
What was their strategic plan? How did they come up with it? Who was their consultant? Consultant? How about counselor? As in the promised counselor. The Holy Spirit breathed into them by Jesus in the upper room on Resurrection day, poured down from heaven on Pentecost, and promised to every person who comes to the waters of baptism.
And the plan? Jesus’ words: Follow me. First it was “Go to Galilee.” They went and experienced time with Jesus and were given the Commission of the church of Christ. Next it was “stay in [Jerusalem] until you’ve been clothed with power from on high.” They did and 3,000 were added to their number that day. The book of Acts is not filled with strategic plans of people and their institutions and programs, it’s filled with stories of people who responded to the next prompting of God’s Spirit to go and make disciples of all nations.
The followers of Jesus. . . followed Jesus. They let His Spirit move them to generously love and serve their families, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and more and more those they had always thought would and should be “outsiders.” They crossed geographic, cultural, ethnic, and religious boundaries with the simple message that God has reconciled the world to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They spoke of a God of love and peace, and a way to be transformed in this life so as to avoid judgment in the next (John 3:16-18). They did this individually through their vocations, and together as the body of Christ. And it changed the world.
Clearly there was some trust involved. The first disciples knew Jesus was a man of His word, even the impossible ones. They had seen Him do so many things that just were not possible as they’d understood life to work. But all things are possible with and through the one who has been given all authority. Even resurrection. So when God prompted them in their prayers and provided opportunity through their every day faithfulness, they trusted He could and would work.
I need to be reminded of this daily. The plan for each disciple hasn’t changed much. Jesus still says, “Follow me.” He’s still doing what we would often call the improbable, if not downright impossible. But it does take some measure of faithfulness on our part. We need a willingness to learn His way in the Word and trust that He’s going to act. A humility to love and serve Jesus’ way in the face of pressure from inside and out to do it the more normal human way. And when we trust and follow, Jesus continues to bring life, hope, and restoration to the people around us.
So let the followers of Jesus, follow Jesus.
He is Risen!