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Ascension of Jesus
Sunday, June 05 2011

Live in the World, Not of the World

Jesus had visited His disciples a number of times after His resurrection, but now it was time for Him to go.  Acts 1 tells the story of His Ascension into heaven:

"When they had gathered together they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He answered them, 'It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'  When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight."  -Acts 1:6-9, NAB

Even at this point, the Apostles were still focused on the restoration of Israel.  They were still focused on the physical, the world in which they lived, instead of being focused on the spiritual, a world that no one can truly fathom.  Christ's mission was not to set up a kingdom here on earth, but to give us a path to eternity.  Basically, Christ told His followers to stop worrying about when Israel will be restored and to be ready for the great mission that was about to be given to them.  It would not be long before the Holy Spirit would come and change their lives in ways they could never imagine.

As we prepare for Pentecost, it is important to keep in mind what truly matters.  At Pentecost, we will be called upon, just like the Apostles, to evangelize and share the good news of Christ.  To get our minds prepared for that moment, let's learn this basic lesson from the Apostles.  Like them, we often become focused on what God can do for us in this world.  We pray for our careers, our finances, our health, and the love of others.  But, we must let go of the trappings of this world and focus on what really matters.  If we are going to be effective at evangelizing, we need to rise to the occasion.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to living in the world around us.  As our world seems to turn further and further from God, many choose to step out of the world in which we live.  They distance themselves from the world.  For some, this may be the right thing to do.  It is easier to separate ourselves from the temptations than to battle them.  However, for those strong at heart, there is another option.  It is possible to live in this world without living of this world.  In other words, we can stay immersed in society and live among them without giving into the same sinful nature.  The temptations will be great, but, by the grace of God, you can overcome them.

Christ came down to live among us to share His New Covenant with us.  He lived in the world, but not of the world.  He overcame the temptations this world has to offer.  Like Christ, we must be willing to live in the world, but, at the same time, we must not fall victim to the pitfalls that this world brings.  After spending His life living among us, Jesus ascended to heaven.  At the end of our lives, our hope is that we will one day join Him.


What's Next?

For the next few weeks, we will be looking at the 40 days Christ spent on Earth after His resurrection and before His ascension to heaven.  Then, that will lead us directly into Pentecost.  Some great material coming up!

 

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