“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth’” (Acts 1:4-8).
As He’d done many times before, Jesus gathered His chosen apostles to Himself. As they came to Him, they came together. It’s a simple principle, really, but the closer we draw to Christ, the closer we grow to one another. Many of the divisions and disunities within the body of Christ reveal the fact that we aren’t as close to Christ as we’d like to think we are. If we’d truly surrender ourselves to Him, many of our differences and dislikes for one another would simply vanish. Then again, we are sinful creatures, aren’t we?
Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. Why wait? Hadn’t they already graduated from the College of Jesus? He’d taught them for 3½ years. Weren’t they ready to take the world by storm? No, not really. See, the kingdom of God is a spiritual matter, it doesn’t operate according to worldly principles. In fact, very little about God’s kingdom makes any sense at all to the unregenerate mind. Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6). The flesh can never accomplish the Spirit’s work.
We will never build a better church by using business principles from the world. We might gather more people into larger buildings and become quite famous, but the thing we build in the flesh will never reflect the glory of God. The microwave, flash drive, just-do-it-yourself approach to church planting and church growth may produce massive cathedrals with parking problems and an abundance of programs, but large crowds, in themselves, do not create the kingdom of God. Jesus wasn’t afraid to drive away the crowds in order to minister exclusively to His real disciples (Jn. 6:41-69).
Waiting is hard work, though. Today, we learn to jump-start, multi-task, and get on to the next project before the ink dries. We want to see how big, how much, and how fast we can accomplish things. Slow and steady annoys us.
Yet, God is a God who waits. He is immeasurably patient with us. If God were no more patient than I am, there’d be nothing left of anything. But He IS patient. Waiting is one of His communicable attributes and He delights to develop His patience in us, even though it drives us crazy.
Godly waiting isn’t idling, though. It’s drawing close to Him and communing with Him and resting in Him and learning from Him and worshiping Him. There are times when it seems to us that God is silent, moving slowly (or not at all), but just because we can’t see Him doesn’t mean He’s not actively working on our behalf. Job was humbled to learn that God was far bigger and busier than he could ever have imagined.
Even though our culture has accelerated its pace, God hasn’t changed His ways. He works to accomplish His purposes for His glory according to His good pleasure – and that means waiting much.
I pray the Lord will grant His people the grace to wait on Him and each other.