words are generally important words. When parents send a child off to
college, their final words are filled with the main thing—get enough
sleep, eat right, attend classes, and study hard. When people die, and
they have the time and the mental clarity to do so, they share the most
important thing they have learned with those they are leaving behind.
All the fluff and nonessential things fall to the side. This is the
last chance to provide positive influence to their loved ones, the last
chance to impart wisdom which will keep their children on the right
track. Parting words are limited to the main thing. They are worth
listening to, worth following.
Jesus, before He ascended into
Heaven, said some parting words that are important. He had finished
three years of instructing His disciples and leading by example. He had
fulfilled His role as Savior of the world—led a perfect, sinless life,
surrendered His life on the cross, and then rose triumphant from the
grave. His time on this earth was coming to an end. It was time for
His parting words.
What did He say? There were many important
things He could have said. He could have said, “Study the Scripture
each day,” but He didn’t. That would have been a very important
command. He could have said, “Build big, beautiful churches in which to
worship Me.” He didn’t say that either. He could have said, “Build
schools to educate your children, and universities to turn out Christian
scholars.” But, He didn’t say that either.
No, Jesus got down to the primary thing, the main thing, the most important thing. In Acts 1:8, He said just this:
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will
be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
ends of the earth.”
There was no mistaking Jesus’ intent.
His disciples (that includes all believers) have one primary reason for
existence, one primary responsibility in life—to serve as witnesses for
Jesus among our acquaintances, in our town, in our state, in our nation,
and throughout the world. This is our role as individuals and it is to
be the primary responsibility of the Christian Church. There is no
confusion, no ambiguity. Our individual goal and the goal of the
church, is to witness to the truth of Jesus and to share the Good News
There are lots of good things we can do and lots of
good things the Church can do, but the main thing, the primary thing is
Jesus’ charge to be His witnesses wherever we go.
It makes me
consider how I live my life. It also makes me take a look at my own
church. Does it have its priorities straight? Is it focused on Jesus’
priority, sharing the Good News?
Is it exercising good
stewardship with the finite funds it has available to it? When I look
at my church budget, is it clear that the main thing is the main thing?
Are all the programs of my church aligned toward the main thing? If I
look at my church’s expenditures from a cost/impact perspective will I
see that we are exercising good stewardship?
Is my church, is
your church, taking Jesus’ parting words to heart? Do Jesus’ parting
words focus and align your programs for maximum effectiveness in serving
as His witness to the world? Perhaps we should all do a cost/impact
analysis of our projects and programs to see if they are aligned with
Jesus’ parting words. His parting words are His most important advice
to you and me and to His church.