In 1995, a man left his well-paid job in New York, moved to Seattle, and began a business operating out of the garage in his new rented home. He started by selling books in the newly emerging online market. The first book he sold was ‘Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought’ by Douglas Hofstadter. Catchy title, eh? Nevertheless, business boomed. Within two months, he’d sold books to all 50 states in America and to 45 countries overseas. And from there it just kept on growing…. For this was how Amazon started, and it made the man – Jeff Bezos – currently the world’s richest, on paper at least.
What starts small can sometimes grow in an extraordinary way. When Jesus left this world to return to his Father in heaven (today’s passage from the start of Acts), he left behind 11 leaders, a total group of 120, no money, and no buildings. In other words, not a lot to the naked eye. But his final words to them were clear: what he started would spread ‘to the ends of the earth’ (v8).
How? Well, if Jeff Bezos harnessed the power of the internet, Jesus’ followers were about to receive a totally different kind of power. They couldn’t earn it or create it, they simply had to trust, wait and receive (v4-5, repeated v8). Only when they had received it would they be empowered to take Jesus’ good news to those around them: first to the capital city, then to the rest of the country, and finally across the world.
It reminds us that the gift of the Spirit is not just for our benefit, but for those around us. Lovely as it is to experience the presence of God, His power equips us to serve, and especially to share what we believe. As we’ll see tomorrow, the disciples’ first experience of this demonstrated that truth probably more than they could possibly have dreamed.
Infectious faith is a work of the Spirit. It’s good to have a testimony, and to know what we believe. It’s good to be ready to share whenever the opportunity arises. But most of all, we need the presence and power of God: giving us divine appointments, the right words at the right time, and multiplying their effect in those we are sharing with.
It doesn’t mean being passive. But the great weight off our shoulders is that, ultimately, it’s not about us. It’s God’s work: we trust, we receive, we go – and we leave the rest to him.
Who do you know that God is at work in? Why not pray for them today? And pray for power to be God’s witness wherever you may get the opportunity. Amen, come Holy Spirit.