Then the [disciples]  gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But 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.”  Acts 1:6-8

…. Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

Before Jesus leaves His disciples, He tells them to fulfill “The Great Commission” by being His witnesses and making disciples.  He tells them this will be possible only as they receive the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.  Additionally, the Holy Spirit’s  gifts will be fully present in future communities of believers.    

How can we follow Jesus’ direction in our daily lives? Figuring this out hasn’t been easy for me, in spite of what seemed to be clear leading.  From an early age I was fascinated by France, learned to speak French fluently and spent time studying there in college. While living in France, I felt the clear leading of the Holy Spirit in making French-speaking friends and having conversations about Jesus; this came naturally.  I regularly attended a French church. I thought that the next step in following the Great Commission would be to return to France as a missionary.  When I asked  for advice from the pastor of the American church I attended, he told me I had to participate in “Evangelism Explosion”.  This program involved learning specific bible verses and conversations and knocking on doors with a teammate. I didn’t like the pre-packaged, impersonal format; and in the months it took to complete the program, I became disillusioned, and so abandoned my plan.  In retrospect, I don’t think the pastor’s  advice had a strong biblical foundation. 

This is how Paul describes a community of believers under the authority of the Holy Spirit:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.   Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.   

And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.  I Corinthians 12:12-14, 28

Believers’ power comes through being transformed by the Holy Spirit, not through  learning techniques. Only the Spirit can build a church of individuals with their unique personalities and spiritual gifts. It was difficult for me, particularly as a young female, to filter the pastor’s advice through a biblical lens.  Thinking back, I didn’t need to follow a program.  I didn’t need to learn an additional technique or follow a Church certified path. I had the experience and church roots. I needed to move forward on my own, with the guidance of the  Holy Spirit. 

Hindsight is 20/20! Even when we want to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, we are working with human limitations. In spite of that experience, I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit can work with me and with every believer to be part of  the great commission.   Ask yourself: “Am I open to the work of the Holy Spirit? Am I growing in my  everyday life and my connection to other believers?” Take time to pray for the Holy Spirit’s transformation and guidance.  

by Sherry Sommer


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