2016 August Prayer Initiative - Day 26

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

We fear people because they can expose and humiliate us. We fear people because they can reject, ridicule, or despise us. We fear people because they can attack, oppress, or threaten us. These three reasons have one thing in common: they see people as ‘bigger’ than God, and out of the fear that creates in us, we give other people the power and right to tell us what to feel, think, and do.
— Ed Welch

part 2

Yesterday we talked about what Jesus has called us to do: be his witnesses. Today we’re looking at where Jesus has called us to do that: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. 
So I guess we need to pack our bags?
Perhaps. God may very well be calling you to move to the other side of the world right now. If He is, you should probably go do that. 
But I think Jesus is talking about more than geography in this final charge to his disciples. In the book of Acts we read about Jesus’ followers living as witnesses—not only across geographic boundaries, but across social and cultural boundaries. When you read this verse in that light, it becomes incredibly relevant.
1. We’re called to be witnesses to our PEEPS.
Jesus sends his disciples to Jerusalem and Judea. That’s where they lived. That’s the sphere in which God had placed them. Go and witness to people in your spheres, Jesus was saying. Talk about me with your peeps. 
Our peeps are the people who are like us. We have similar passions and hobbies. We’re in a similar life stage. We brush shoulders regularly. Jesus is sending us as his witnesses into the spheres we already occupy. 
But there’s a real challenge to being a witness to your peeps: these are the people whose opinions matter most to you. The risk of being rejected or misunderstood feels powerful precisely because these are the people who accept and understand us. 
Jesus is always calling us to get uncomfortable for the sake of others. 
Jesus wants our peeps to know Him. 
2. We’re called to be witnesses to our PAINS.
Jesus sends his disciples to Samaria. That was a place they would never go, let alone live. That was a sphere they wanted nothing to do with. Jews and Samaritans had a rich history of not getting along. To the Jews, the Samaritans were a pain to be around, and vice versa. But Jesus challenges them:  Go and witness, even to the people you don’t like, even to the people who are a pain to be around.

Like our peeps, our pains present real challenges to our being a witness. These are people who rub you the wrong way. Their values feel incompatible with yours. The things they say and do are offensive to you. 
Jesus is always calling us to get uncomfortable for the sake of others. 

Jesus wants our pains to know Him. 
3. We're called to be witnesses to our PERIPHERY.
Jesus sends his disciples to the ends of the earth. The news of what Jesus had done was to extend through and beyond the regions and cultures with which they were most familiar. The disciples were called to push out into the periphery of their known world, to minister to people they knew very little about. 
So I guess we need to pack our bags?  Again, perhaps

But right here in Orlando we are surrounded by people who are very different from us. The challenges are obvious: These are people you don’t really understand. There are very real cultural barriers. Sensitivity and humility are required to make room at the table for people on the periphery of your world. 
Jesus is always calling us to get uncomfortable for the sake of others. 
Jesus wants people on our periphery to know Him. 

Acts 1:8 is about more than geography. It’s about showing and telling the love of Christ with those like us (peeps), those not like us (periphery), and even those we don’t like (pains). Why?  Jesus likes them all. A lot.

How to pray...

  • Pray for God to show you ways you can be “uncomfortable for the sake of others”.

  • It’s hard to hate someone and pray for them at the same time: Pray for specific “Pains” in your life.

  • Pray for humility to better understand people who are very different from you. Pray specifically for opportunities to build bridges with Muslims in our communities.

  • Pray for the witnesses all over the globe who, relying on the power of the Spirit, are sharing the love of Christ with people on the “periphery”.

  • Pray for the restoration of the Christian church in war-ravaged areas such as Syria and Iraq.

For the Family

A good way for us to put this lesson into practice is in a place most kids visit on a daily basis: the school cafeteria!

I remember the school cafeteria as a place where I enjoyed great times with my best friends and got annoyed with the people I didn’t like so much. I also realize now that the room had many people who I knew almost nothing about. 

Talk with your kids: Think about the cafeteria at school. Do you sit with your best friends, your “peeps”? How are you showing them the love of Jesus on a daily basis? What about the people who really annoy you in the lunchroom… the “pains”... How could you show them the love of Jesus?

And finally, what about the kids who sit alone on the edge of the room, at the end of the table, or those kids who are ashamed to eat with others because they don’t feel like they fit in… How can you show those people the love of Jesus?

As a family, talk about these things:

  • Think about your closest friends. Which of your “peeps” needs to be shown the love of Jesus? Pray for them.

  • Think of someone who really annoys you. Remember that God loves that person, and pray that God will change your attitude so that you can be loving and kind.

  • Think of someone who doesn’t fit in. Ask God for the courage to talk to that person and learn more about who they are.

"Witnesses" - Joe White

Joe White serves as Assistant Pastor and part of the Sunday teaching team at Lake Baldwin Church. Joe and Tiffany (along with their children, Taylor, Lydia, and Jeremiah) recently moved back to Orlando after 6 years in Los Angeles, where Joe served as the Reformed University Fellowship pastor at UCLA. From 2005-2009, Joe did his graduate work at Reformed Theological Seminary, where he completed a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Counseling. 

"For the Family" - Joel Pollard

Joel Pollard is the Director of Worship at LBC. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary and intends to pursue pastoral ordination in the PCA after graduation. Joel and his wife, Katie, have been married since 2011 and have two children, Sam and Evie.