It’s usually only after fighting for Our Way that we realize God’s Way was actually much better. Scripture is loaded with stories of folks like us, from Old Testament heroes to Jesus’ own disciples, who thought they knew best, but learned that God knew better.
A classic example:
In Acts 1, after Christ has risen from the dead and spent 40 days continuing to teach His followers, it says the apostles “kept asking him, ‘Lord has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom.’”
As was His typical way, Jesus didn’t really answer their question, at least not in the way they expected or hoped! They were looking for a physical kingdom, an overthrow of the Roman regime, the restoration of their own people. But Jesus wanted so much more.
In His response to their question, we see how Christ was gently exposing their hearts and mobilizing them for the greatest mission the world has ever seen. He was ready to unleash the gospel and advance His kingdom, but it would look entirely different than the disciples had in mind.
“The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus answered the first part of their question “has the time come…?” by reminding them that only the Father sets dates and times and they don’t get to know. My hunch is that those guys thought Jesus was taking too long and they wanted to hurry things up. They were tired of waiting perhaps. They wanted it done in their time.
But Jesus assured them that God’s timing was better.
A BETTER WAY
Next, Jesus tackled their assumptions about the way He would advance His kingdom. Based on their question, “has the time come for you to free Israel…,” I wonder if they were picturing Jesus marching up to the Roman authorities in all His power and might and taking back the nation of Israel by force? Maybe they hoped for a military coup, for Jesus to oust their oppressors and take His rightful place on the throne in Jerusalem.
But Jesus really surprised them there! He said, “But YOU will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon YOU, and YOU will be my witnesses…”
Jesus did not intend to overthrow a government Himself. That was far too small. His plan instead was to equip His people to spread a message of peace, truth, and redemption that would permeate all facets of society. And they would not go with swords and spears, relying on their own physical strength. He would instead send them out with HOLY SPIRIT POWER… giving them authority and boldness and abilities beyond their wildest imaginations.
The disciples thought they had the best plans. They wanted it done their way.
But Jesus astonished them with a plan that could only mean God’s way was better.
A BETTER KINGDOM
And finally, Christ confronted their flawed beliefs about whose kingdom they were building. They asked Jesus when He was going to “restore our kingdom.” Maybe they were thinking, ‘Jesus came for us, right? His plan was to bless us…? We are the special people that he came to redeem…’
But Jesus lifted their eyes up from their own belly buttons and shocked them with his statement that they were to be his witnesses, “telling people about me everywhere— in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus did come for the people of Israel, yes. He did bless them and redeem them. But that was only to be the beginning. They were blessed in order that they might bless all the nations on earth.
The disciples were content to focus on their own little worlds. They wanted to build their kingdoms.
But Jesus admonished them that God’s kingdom was better.
How often am I like those “confused disciples?” I like things accomplished in my timing, done in my way, in order to build my kingdom. But that leaves no room for Jesus to surprise me, to unleash a plan far greater than mine, to do the unexpected and extraordinary.
Today, will I trust and will you trust that GOD KNOWS BETTER?
Sarah Bourns serves in the realm of staff care for Envision, providing support, resources, and equipping for our 40+ long-term workers in the U.S. and around the world. Sarah is originally from California, and enjoys cooking for friends, teaching English, spending time outdoors, and getting auntie time with her nieces and nephew