Ed. Note: This paper has been adapted from its original form. Read the full paper here.
Do you celebrate the Ascension? You should! It has incredible implications for you, your vocation, and the Church as a whole.
In this series, we’ve talked about the importance of where Jesus was going when he Ascended – to the right hand of the Father to be crowned the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That means that Christ is Lord over every area of life, including every professional area. You are free to pursue your vocation with vigor and freedom knowing Christ is Lord over that area.
It’s also important to reflect on both who He was going to send in His place and what He was going to do when He got there. Let’s discuss each of these and explore their relevance for our lives today.
One reason for the joy of the disciples at the Ascension was who Christ was going to send in His place – namely, the Holy Spirit.
At Pentecost, the Spirit was sent to be the Advocate (Paracletos) to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7). Particularly, the Spirit was sent to do the following:
- Convict “the world” concerning the sin of unbelief (vs. 9),
- Provide a conviction of the winsome attractiveness of Christ when He was no longer present as a visual example of it (vs. 10), and
- Show that the problem of evil will have a culmination in the “ruler of this world” (Satan) being judged (vs. 11).
Note that the conviction being discussed applies not just to individual people but to “the world” (vs. 8). In other words, there is a public dimension to the Holy Spirit’s work, as well as a private and personal one.
When we confront the public issues of the day (from a Biblical perspective) it is good to know that we don’t have to rely on our own intelligence and power alone, but can appeal to the Spirit to be our prosecuting or defending Advocate. The work of the Spirit applies not only to evangelism and missions, but to other areas of culture. Christ empowers our gifts to be used in the church and the world.
All too often, the evangelical church has focused on personal salvation, or at best, personal discipleship, but not on detailed, specific help for people as they do their work in the world through various professions. When was the last time you saw people commissioned, ordained, prayed for by laying on of hands that they be Spirit-anointed for their task in business, politics, education, science, journalism, medicine, or the arts? Christian author William E. Diehl says in Christianity and the Real Life:
I am now a manager for a major steel company. In the almost thirty years of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on the job ministry to others. My church has never once offered to improve those skills which could make me a better lay minister, nor has it ever asked if I needed any kind of support in what I was doing. There has never been an inquiry in the types of ethical decisions I must face, or whether I seek to communicate my faith to my co-workers. I have never been in a congregation where there was any type of public affirmation of a ministry in my career. In short, I must conclude that my church doesn’t really have the least interest in whether or how I minister in my daily work.
In this man’s life, it’s as if the Ascension didn’t happen. It’s as if Christ was not Lord of all of life or the Spirit meant to empower us not merely in personal, but in public life, empowering gifts not just for evangelism, but for our work. We know that this is not true, and it should not be so in our churches.
Another question, what does Christ as the ascended Lord continue to do? Among other things—pray for us. As the great High Priest, He “always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Christ died for us, rose for us, reigns in power for us, and prays for us (Rom. 8:34). When Simon Peter fell into denying Christ, the assurance of his return to faith was, “I have prayed for you” (Luke 22:31-32). If Christ is praying for us, should we not be encouraged as we encounter difficulties in this world – in our jobs, families, and relationships?
In our next post, we’ll summarize the implications of the where, who, and what of the Ascension on our lives today.
Question: Do you feel like you have been “commissioned” into the ministry of your job? How does this change the way you think of your job? Leave a comment here.