This year for Ascension Day 2014 I was able to preach at Ocean View Methodist. It was nice to personally reflect on the ascension of Christ and what difference it truly makes in my own life.
When I think of the ascension I always immediate recall Jesus saying, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you” (John 16:7). This is such an incredibly ridiculous line! How could it ever be BETTER that Jesus leave us! And how eerie it must have been for the disciples as they stood looking at the sky with those words ringing in their ears? This was something that Jesus was always trying to teach his followers, that he needed to leave in order for the real work to begin.
Even today I feel like we are often sitting looking at the clouds still in disbelief that Jesus ever left us, and wondering if he will truly come back. We miss the promises that come with the RISE. There is great promise in the rise but we have to stop REMEMBERING THE RISE and start RECEIVING THE RISE.
To truly receive the rise that Jesus gives us through His Holy Spirit, we need to do three things.
1. Embrace the MYSTERY. Our life being filled with the Holy Spirit, without Jesus literally walking by our side is a total mystery. We can’t predict the future and often times we can’t even understand what the heck is going on RIGHT NOW. We need to stop trying to know and figure it all out. We need to embrace the mystery of God and the mystery of what He wants to do.
2. Allow our EYES to RISE. So often we are stuck looking at our present circumstances and deciding how to change them or looking behind and wishing the past would be different. But Jesus wants our eyes and hearts to always be rising just as He did. He wants us to not only look ahead but be MOVING ahead and always reaching out for what is next. It might be hard, it might take all our energy, but the things of God are ABOVE and we need to go there.
3. We can’t just remember the rise, but we must RECEIVE the rise. We can’t just recognize it or celebrate it but we have to receive it within our own lives. “No longer do I live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:19, 20). The Holy Spirit is ours to receive but so often we just go on talking about what Jesus could do but not receiving and claiming it for ourselves. God is alive and active, we just have to open up to that work!
How can you RECEIVE the RISE today?