I remember as a grommet in school staring out the window wondering what the waves were doing. Drawing waves on my pencil case and dreaming of the surf I had had before school. In some countries as I have travelled but particularly in places with inconsistent marginal surf the culture of surfing seems somehow more important. It’s a way of identifying oneself and ones passion even when the waves are not there. You get the right clothes, you talk the right talk, you look at boards and other accessories and you most certainly hangout with other surfers in the cool surfer cafe’s. Why because you mind longs for something that isn’t there and you seek to identify with it. The surf.
Some Christians are like this they talk the talk the hang out in the right places the occupy their minds only with heavenly’ sanctified things. Yet are they with drawing from the world to create an alternative reality of heavenly bliss? I hear terms like, I’m dwelling in his presence, soaking in the spirit or walking in the light.
Jesus definitely ascended into heaven or the presence of the father. He told Mary Magdeline to stop clinging to his resurrected body as he had not yet ascended Jn 20:17. Peter speaks of Jesus in his soon to come Pentecost sermon as having been exalted to the right hand of God. Acts 2:31. and the writings of paul and the author of hebrews distinguish the ascension of Jesus from the resurrection of Jesus. His rising and his reigning are not to be confused. Jesus reigns and rules in Heaven in his heavenly kingdom yet we and the disciples are here on earth.
The disciple have just been told to wait for power that will come with the spirit and now they are literally staring in a field staring into heaven where Jesus has just ascended. It is appropriate that Luke concluded his first volume (the gospel of Luke) with the ascension LK 24:50-53 and here he starts the book of acts with the ascension. Lk 1: 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Jesus had told them to wait for the spirit but they just stood there gazing into heaven.
10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?
“The expression into heaven or into the sky appears 4 times in Vs 10and 11 especially in the angels implied reproof, emphasises that the apostles were not to be sky gazers.” J Stott
2 reasons are given: 1 Jesus will come again. 2 Until he comes agin the apostles must get on with their witness, for that is their mandate.
There was something out of place with their gazing into the sky when they had been commissioned to go to the ends of the earth. They were called to be witnesses not star gazers.
The apostles made two errors in this final exchange with the risen Jesus. Firstly they were hoping for political power. (the restoration of the kingdom to Israel) Acts 1: 6b they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. Secondly they’re gazing up into the sky, (pre occupied with the heavenly Jesus)
Both of these are false fantasies the first is the error of the politicist who dreams of establishing Utopia here on earth. The second is the error of the pietist, who dreams only of heavenly bliss. The first error is too earthly and the second too heavenly.
We like the disciples are called to be witnesses to what Jesus has done and to be empowered by his spirit to do so.
In the same way that drawing waves or dreaming of them in school didn’t fell like actually surfing, so dwelling greedily in Gods presence to the exclusion of sharing Jesus won’t take his people or message to the ends of the earth.
The question remains for us as well ‘why do you stand staring into heaven’ longing for church or worship or fellowship when we are called to be witnesses?
“Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good” Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness. – Charles Stanley
He who talks upon plain gospel themes in a farmer’s kitchen, and is able to interest the carter’s boy and the dairymaid, has more of the minister in him than the prim little man who keeps prating about being cultured, and means by that – being taught to use words which nobody can understand. – Charles Spurgeon
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
G.K. Chesterton, (What’s Wrong with the World)
Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car. G.K. Chesterton
”“Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good” Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.