“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?...” - Acts 1:11a
When Christ ascended into heaven, the disciples still stood staring into heaven as if waiting for an encore. God had to send two angles to break them up asking, “why do you stand looking into heaven?” The ascension of Christ is an event which highlights the most important aspects of being a Christian. Despite all of Christ’s teachings, the disciples didn’t understand, at first, why he had to leave. He had to leave in order to be seen.
The Christ in Each Other
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” - Matthew 25:40
Many of Jesus’s parables teach that Christ is found in our interactions with others. The verse above (Matt. 25:40) comes right out and says what we do to the “least of these” we do to Christ. As a superstitious people, if Christ did not leave we would probably never learn to look for him. There is no way the frail human spirit would act on Christ’s teachings while he was still physically present, we would be far too distracted. We still value the physical over the intangible.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors and the phrase “one another” appears over and over again in the letters of the apostles. When Christ said “follow me” people began to follow him around the earth. If he had not gone into heaven, we would have never actually followed his teachings. It is obvious and a kinda funny if you stop and think about it.
The Christ Within
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” - John 16:7
We are always tempted to externalize our religion. When we are immature, the outside world is more real to us than our internal life. For Christians, the outside world changes according the internal one. Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow it to form us from within is key to our spiritual development. If Christ did not leave, we would never stop to listen, in prayer and meditation, to the presence of God within ourselves.
Why Do You Look Into the Sky?
My heart was heavy the other day hearing a woman at church say, “I just have to keep looking to the sky. I just have to keep my eyes on heaven.” Even more sad, was that her comment was follow with nods and amens from others around the room. I don’t say this to judge her, she definitely has a heart for God. I mourn for the Church, who she represented with her comment, which stands looking to the sky and does not know how to live.
If we are looking to the sky, we are not looking for Christ in each other. If we are looking to heaven, we are not looking for Christ within ourselves. The kingdom of heaven is here and now, it is there for those who know to look. Let’s stop looking up, and start looking around for opportunities to serve, meet, and represent Christ.
Do you pray for conviction to act as Christ or do you wait for some kind of external "sign" to tell you what to do?
Do you cherish the daily miracles of forgiveness, charity, reconciliation and community or do you think of them merely as "part of the job" as you wait for something better?
Do you serve a distant God or do you labor alongside Christ?
Is Christ here or there?
Do you wait to meet him, or do you meet him daily?