Luke tells us that when Peter denied Jesus he went out “weeping bitterly.” But when he was flogged by the council he went out rejoicing, and even though he had been ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, he found that he couldn’t stop talking about him. This is what I’m telling you: the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that turned Peter into a fearless witness. It is both life-giving and life-changing. It is loose in the world, and available to us, and that’s good news.
The truth is we all have those “I quit” moments. But remember, the word of Jesus is the only sure thing we’ve got in this world. And Jesus is saying, “Don’t quit. Stand firm. Together we’ll accomplish more than you think. And even if you die trying, you will win life.”
Even when we’re doing the will of God, we live in “in-between” times. Life, we discover, is not so much an uninterrupted continuum as much as it is a series of single moments strung together like pearls on a string.
But the Jesus Effect lifts us in order to bring us into new community with God and others. Notice that the joyful man entered the Temple with Peter and John. He praised God with Peter and John. He became part of the community! Peter and John were his fellow worshippers, not merely his enablers. Together, they were evidence to others about God's redemptive power, purposes, and love.
Because we have witnessed the power of resurrection in our lives, let us encourage others by our witness. As we love one another and demonstrate God's love, let us also encourage one another in resurrection faith, hope, and joy. Let the resurrection witness loose, my sisters and brothers. Let it loose and do not be dismayed or discouraged by small numbers. Let it loose, and do not tie it racism, sexism, or any other cultural and traditional limitations. Let it loose, and so that people will know that God will raise them, redeem them, deliver them, and renew them. Let the resurrection witness loose!
Two thousand years ago the signs and wonders of Pentecost were strong winds, tongues of fire, and speaking in strange languages. Six weeks ago when Susan Boyle first stepped on stage the wonder was a voice that seemed to fall from heaven. What if the signs and wonders of the 21st century church are congregations so filled with the Holy Spirit and unified around Jesus that they consistently not only loved each other but broke out of their holy huddles to love and serve others?