The first chapter of Acts is an overlooked text. That’s understandable because of the fireworks that occur in the second chapter when the Spirit is sent, Peter’s proclaims a mighty message about Jesus, three thousand people are baptized, etc.). Still, there’s a reason Luke wrote Acts the way he did and the first chapter is more than just a door leading to chapter two.
Acts 1 is a speed trap of sorts. The disciples have been with the risen Christ for forty days and they’re chomping at the bit for the kingdom to be restored to Israel (v. 6). But instead of that happening (or something else that might rival it) Christ tells them to hang around Jerusalem—and wait (v. 4). That’s right; the book of Acts begins with a command to wait.
So that’s what the apostles do. As they’re waiting they gather in community (v. 14-15), engage the Scripture (v. 16-20), and pray (v. 24). By doing this they’re doing more than waiting—they’re waiting on the Lord. It’s interesting that when our lives start going too fast and get out of control, waiting on the Lord through community, engaging Scripture, and prayer are often the very first things that we jettison.
This is a real challenge for many of us. We have more to do than we have time in a day. The idea of spending any of our time in these things might sound inviting but not practical. We’ll catch up on these over the weekend or maybe on our next vacation. Right now we just don’t have time . . .
Luke would have us to see that we don’t have time not to take time to wait on the Lord. The truth is, whatever time we devote to waiting on the Lord will come right back to us several times over in the sense of peace, perspective and renewal it brings to our lives. And Luke wants us to understand that the events of Acts 2 don’t take place without the waiting of Acts 1.
Waiting on the Lord shows God that we know the real power is not us. It’s not in our planning, our busyness, or anything else. We are totally dependent upon Him—right down to providing our daily bread. It is in Him that we live, move and have our being (17:28). Waiting on Him acknowledges this.
It’s also a sign of our faith. If we believe that it’s about God rather than us, then we won’t push Him out of the way because we’ve got a mountain of things to do. Instead, we’ll bring them before Him and seek His guidance and blessing as we proceed. This is exactly the way that Jesus approached life and if the church is the body of Christ committed to carrying on what He did and taught (see 1:1), we will too.