Is Your Head In The Clouds?
"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'" - Acts 1:10-11
The above scripture depicting Jesus' departure from his disciples (what Christians commonly refer to as "The Ascension") appeared in my daily readings today, and I found myself wondering the same thing I've always wondered when I read it: "What the heck is going on here?"
Is the writer of Acts really suggesting that Jesus drifted away like a balloon into the sky?
Or was Jesus' transition from our reality to God's reality something so beyond the comprehension of those who witnessed it, that they could only describe it in ways they could understand?
And then it hit me. The point of this story wasn't in the details of Jesus' departure, nor was it in the mysterious appearance of the angelic beings. Like most things in the Bible, we can get so caught up in trying to explain the unexplainable and affix a definition to a mystery that we completely miss the point.
To the first-century Christians who would have been reading this account, the point of this story was crystal clear: "Don't stand around with your mouth open, staring at the sky and waiting for Jesus to return. Get to work."
Or to put it another way (using the oft-quoted phrase from Oliver Wendell Holmes): "Don't become so heavenly minded that you aren't any earthly good."
You see, for those of us who desire to follow Jesus, it's often far too easy to spend our days talking and thinking about what it means to be a Christian without actually doing the things that Christians should be doing.
As Christians, we spend so much time trying to figure out the deep theological answers to the pressing problems of our day, that we lose sight of the fact that Jesus more often than not intends for us to be the answers to those problems.
Mary Oliver's poem "What I Have Learned So Far" speaks directly to this, and issues us a challenge:
Can one be passionate about the just,If you feel as though your faith has been reduced to a sky-gazing, open-mouthed and inactive exercise... If you are wondering if there is more to following Jesus than just knowing the information... Then perhaps you are being stirred to live bigger.
the ideal, the sublime and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don't think so...
The gospel of light is the crossroads of--indolence or action...
Be ignited or be gone.
May you be ignited by an active, trusting faith. May you live with passion and joy today, working to bring the peace of God to earth as it is in heaven.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.