Motivation Meditations in Acts : 1 : Introduction
Acts 1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
We have previously written a meditation series entitled, “Why?” but that asked questions of God about why things happen like they do. This series is slightly different in that we will be examining why we act like we do, what is it that motivates us to act like we do, and to do that we are going to use the book of Acts as our basis for consideration.
Our opening verse give us one obvious reason why we, as Christians, do things – because Jesus or God has told us to do so, but that is only a starting point because, as we so often say in these meditations it is important to look at verses in context. So what have we actually got here at the beginning of Acts?
First of all we have a bunch of men and women and they all have history. They are all, we believe, beyond teenage years at the very least. We might guess that they are mostly in their twenties or thirties but we aren’t told. They all have family backgrounds and some of them at least (maybe most) have families of their own. That we may surmise from what we read in the Gospels. So each of them is a unique personality and they bring that personality to the Gospel accounts, and we mustn’t forget that. We are first and foremost the people God and our families and life has made us to be.
But this particular group of people have a unique history, at least in respect of the last three years, and it involves being called by and then following Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. Those three years must have been the peak of human experience as they walked and talked and ate with the Son of God, and then watched him perform healings and miracles, often dozens if not hundreds a day. They saw him raise people from the dead, they saw him walk on water, and three of them saw him transfigured. And then he drew them into what he was doing so that they were the ones who broke bread and fishes to feed five thousand and then four thousand people. They were sent out and they saw healings and signs and wonders and came back full of joy.
But then they had gone up to Jerusalem with him on that last occasion and gone through that nerve racking week when again and again he taught and healed in the temple precincts under the very noses of the authorities who felt threatened by him. They had been with him in the upper room for the Last Supper and they had been with him in the Garden of Gethsemane and fell asleep when he prayed, and then they had seen him arrested and then he had been crucified and buried. They had been utterly miserable and fearful and had hidden away until after three days, when he had been raised from the dead, he came searching them out. Then he had sent them up to Galilee and had eventually come and joined them there – and that is where we find them.
All of these things we need to take into account when we consider these disciples – about to be apostles – as we observe them in Acts. We are similar to them in that we have unique personalities and we have history but we are very different from them in that we have not been through the wonders and the terrors that were unique to their experience. For us our experience of Jesus started differently. We didn’t have an encounter with this compelling human-cum-God figure. Our encounter came through another human being, yes, and it was Jesus by his Spirit operating through them, but from then on our experiences were different and yet they are the same in as far as they have flowed out of our response to the call of the Son of God to “follow me”. We are different from our neighbour who has not had this experience in that they have not (yet) come to crisis point in their life where they were faced by their failure and their need and surrendered to God and received His love and forgiveness and regeneration by His Spirit.
That is where we come from but we may be very similar in a number of ways to these disciples with Jesus at our starting point: we hope we are open and available to the Son of God and will therefore be obedient to his calling and his directions, and yet like them we probably have questions because life isn’t as clear as preachers would sometimes like us to believe. So we’re going to stop here in this first meditation and leave the questions to the next one where we can more fully consider them.
For the moment, as we get ready to step out in these new areas of consideration, hold onto that thought about context and background. Yes, we may be motivated in a whole variety of ways that I believe we will see as we get into this series, but behind it all and perhaps limiting or even enabling it, is our personal history. We are what we are because of where we’ve come from and the experiences we’ve had so far in life and all of that will impinge on the things that then press in on us in further life experiences to motivate us to do what we do. Pray for revelation and insight into who you are and how the Lord works in and through these things as we progress in this new series.