Where is God Calling You?
Sara Bell |
June 20, 2021
Photo Above: Vineyard Men's Group and Alpha Citizen partnered to clear and mulch natural debris for a Community Garden in OTR.
Your personal story is powerful. Sharing with others your transformative experience in your walk with God is the most powerful gift you can offer others - the people who ask you about the reason for the hope that you have.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus says to His disciples “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.”
Today I would like to explore this verse and take a look at exactly what Jesus is asking of His disciples in this conversation — what He’s commissioning them to do on His behalf in His last conversation with them.
In this passage, Jesus references a few different locations, which would have held extreme meaning to the disciples, but which may get lost in translation a bit for us today. When Jesus states that the disciples will be His witness “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” He’s laying out both a visual and a fundamental picture of what He’s asking.
First of all, these locations begin at the closest region to where they were located; Jerusalem, then broadened out to the community beside them in Judea and then slightly beyond to Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth. He opens them up to bigger and bigger concentric circles, widening their mission more and more.
This would be the equivalent to calling us today to be witnesses to Cincinnati, Ohio and Kentucky and the ends of the earth. But even more so, Jesus is illustrating a fundamental picture of who He’s calling the disciples to witness to, to serve and to share His story. Commissioning them first to witness to Jerusalem, the most holy and significant Jewish city in their region, then moving to Judea, a land populated primarily by fellow Jews during their time.
He’s calling them to have these conversations with their own people, those closest to them. But then He calls them further to witness to Samaria - a territory just to the north that was despised by the Jews, so much so that it was common in Jesus’ day to travel miles out of the way just to avoid traveling through this land. He’s purposefully asking the disciples to serve and to offer His message of hope and peace and reconciliation to a people group that were seen as less than, as unredeemable and unworthy in the eyes of the first century Jews.
And then finally, Jesus calls the disciples to witness to the ends of the earth, which would mean Jews and Gentiles alike, free and slaves, men and women; shattering their understanding of God’s people versus outsiders. He makes no distinction of who is worthy of His redemptive message. Jesus is asking the disciples to be His ambassadors to anyone and everyone; to serve them, to give the reason for why they are acting on His behalf, to share their story and most importantly, His story.
This passage sheds light on how we are invited to respond still today. You can share your story with those closest to you - your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors. You can broaden a little outside of your day to day life - search for opportunities to serve and share with those in the larger community of Cincinnati.
You can choose not to shy away from opportunities to be a witness to those who you would consider your own “Samaria,” people or situations you might normally avoid or take the long way around to keep from being uncomfortable. And finally, you can make the step to share your story, to witness to people around the world who are hungry for God’s life giving message of hope.
I will say, EVERY one of these will challenge you. I have experienced that personally with each of these opportunities. I’ve traveled to "the ends of the earth" in Canada, Mexico, India, and I was stretched out of my comfort zone, with language and communication barriers, the discomfort of travel and being away from home, the uncertainty of talking to people I didn’t know. And it’s equally daunting, maybe even more so, to share with family or my closest friends the work God is doing in my life.
After all, these are the people who know me best, know how I have failed in the past, the people who I will still have to see every day, and who will see me while I’m still a work in progress, with all my missteps and challenges along the way. But God sees our answer to His call and He shows up. He uses your story and your witnessing to make a difference in those who hear it. He uses our obedience to continue to shape us and be able to offer even more stories of how He is working in our lives.
So I want to challenge you today to ask "Where is God calling you to witness to others?" To share the story of the work He’s doing in your life and to offer His hope to others? Is He calling you to step out and talk to the hurting coworker in your office? The neighbor across the street struggling with their kids, or finances, or their job? Is it the vulnerable across the city of Cincinnati? Maybe the needy around the world? Each of these takes a step of obedience, a step of faith.
As part of the Vineyard Outreach team, I want to encourage you that if you hear God calling you to some of these opportunities, please reach out to me. I would be happy to help you take a step towards serving across the city, or joining one of our Global Outreach Trips.
I would also love to hear how God is calling you to share your story with that family member, neighbor or coworker, so please send me an email to share how God is calling YOU to your own Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or the ends of the earth.
Learn more about local serving opportunities here. Check out global outreach trips here.