Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.”
It occurred to me just now that Peter was doing here what he later wrote that we all should do: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) Submission to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit is going to produce a lifestyle that is different from the people around us. People are going to notice, and when they do, we need to be ready to explain things. We need to do so with gentleness and respect, as Peter said in his letter, but we aren’t to be silent. I have seen figures of the percentage of American Christians who have never shared the Gospel with anyone. The number was huge, though I don’t remember it exactly at the moment. The situation is if anything even worse in Japan, where social norms inhibit talking about personal matters. Most of us will never have an opportunity like Peter had at Pentecost, but I can say with absolute certainty that we will have opportunities. The question then becomes, what do we do with them. If we are like the majority, we will bite our lips and wait for the awkward moment to go away – if we recognize the opportunity in the first place. God does not call and gift everyone to be an evangelist in the sense of Ephesians 4:11, but he calls and empowers every believer to be a witness. (Acts 1:8)
It was through talking about Jesus with a total stranger that I realized that God had been true to His Word and baptized me in His Holy Spirit, but I encounter a very high level of resistance to the idea of personal witnessing, even among people who want more of God. We bemoan the lack of spiritual power in our lives, yet we fail to exercise what we have been given. If we don’t tell others what God has already done for us, why do we demand that He do more? This morning I was dreaming about talking to a small group about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and in my dream as I was talking I realized that the truth I was speaking was being renewed in me even as I spoke. I don’t think there is much question God was telling me something! I need to be fully active in communicating the truth I know so that it will not be merely academic but be “living and active, penetrating to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Father, I have been burdened, not only by all the things going on around me but also by not knowing what You wanted me to say on Sunday. Thank You for lifting that burden! Help me not just preach Your Word but live it out in every area of my life, so that it may have its full work not only in me but however You choose to use it, for Your glory. (Isaiah 55:11) Thank You. Hallelujah!