3After his suffering Jesus presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.
In my four years in the United States Air Force, I acquired many skills and abilities to help me in the years ahead. One of the skills that is learned in an organization that is always looking for volunteers is the Fine Art of Standing Around. This is the ability to look busy when you are not, to avoid being picked (or volunteered) to do this task or another, or to have suitable excuses whenever needed why it should be someone else who is called and not you. The ability to avoid, delay, excuse, and generally just stand around is not as easy as it seems.
Christians since the beginning have made use of this fine art. At the ascension, after Jesus had given instructions to the disciples, it was necessary to send two angels to stop the disciples from just standing around looking up into the sky where Jesus had just ascended into heaven. After ten more days, it took the power of the Holy Spirit to drive those same disciples out into the world to follow the last command of Jesus. Of course, they had some fairly powerful excuses for not going out. That they might be killed like Jesus was a pretty good excuse for just standing around. Yet, they did go out and proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ and people believed.
Unfortunately, today, Christians still practice the Fine Art of Standing Around. We too have found numerous excuses not to be about our Lord’s work. We are too busy or too tired or too this or that. We have excuses for not attending worship or for not talking to people about Jesus or for not following the ways of Christ in our daily lives. We have become experts at the Fine Art of Standing Around. Maybe we need a kick in the pants like the disciples got on the Day of Pentecost to remind us that Christians don’t stand around, they are to go out to “the ends of the earth” with the message of Christ.
How good are you at the Fine Art of Standing Around? Are you too good?