“Then they 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.”
As we reach the ascension in Luke’s account of the life and times of Jesus and the Church, one of the key questions for all of human history is answered. As the disciples ask about the restoration of Israel, Jesus, as He so often does, turns it round and says, basically, “it’s not for you to know, how, or when it will happen, and in the meantime, get on with telling people about me.”
We can spend so much time worrying about whether we get to win or not, whether we get things our own way, whether we get what we want, that we forget that life is actually simple: it’s all about God, not simply about us. We can be like the disciples and see that what Jesus did is all about us and what we hope for (in their case, believing Jesus to be the Messiah, sent to restore Israel).
God is for us. He has loved us. But what Jesus did in life, death, resurrection and ascension is, ultimately, for the glory of God. Similarly, our lives are, ultimately, for the glory of God. We aren’t converted so that our earthly lives are made better. We are converted so that we are brought in to relationship with God, and to tell the world about Him. Let’s try not to be selfish with our faith and our hopes. Christianity isn’t meant to be powerful. It’s not meant to be patriarchal, it’s not meant to be hierarchical. It’s meant for the worship of God. It’s designed so that rather than the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, the inauguration of the eternal kingdom of God is to come. We, as Christians, are not meant to win. We’re meant to follow our Saviour in losing, so that we can remember His ultimate victory and inspiring others to do the same.