The supernatural transformation that comes from having been with Jesus will always be boldly evident. It is God’s way to reveal Christ to the world.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
When we hold a light bulb, we hold something that really is quite simple and ordinary. Fair enough, It’s a nifty little thing, and rather clever. But it’s so much a part of our normal day-to-day lives that we seldom look at one twice – unless it needs replacing, of course. But plug this mundane little object into power and hit the switch, and it’s instantly transformed. It also transforms our lives, bringing us out of darkness into that wonderful place of light. Anyone who has endured power outages will understand the measureless value this innocuous little bit of boring technology offers. This is a good metaphor for Peter and John – ordinary, uneducated men, yet plugged into the power of Jesus and bringing light with a boldness beyond their human capability. If we’ve been with Jesus, we’ll stand out because He shines out through us.
Been with Jesus is a defining condition.
This is such a powerful statement, because it captures the very essence of what God intends our Christian walk should be. We are daily transformed into the likeness of Christ. Our purpose is to reflect more and more of Him as we yield ourselves and allow His nature and character to be formed in us. There is a popular saying that believers may well be the only Bible – Living Word – some people ever read. It may sound trite and tongue-in-cheek, but it’s tragically true. And God knows this. That’s why He has made been with Jesus such a defining condition for believers. His purpose is that, having spent time with Christ, His nature should so shine through us that others simply have to sit back and take notice. It’s His way of making sure that the rest of humanity gets to so a living reflection of a living Christ.
All in all, it’s a wonderfully simple but powerful truth. But it’s also a fairly sobering one. Inevitably, we must all ask ourselves the question – when others look at me, can they see that I have been with Jesus? All of us, if we’re honest, must respond that this isn’t always the case. We’re human and things get to us. We respond in ways we shouldn’t, react with emotions we should check, are often silent when we should speak or speak when we should be silent. It’s not that hard to come up with a list of ways in which we fail to reflect Christ. All of these are part of the normal Christian walk and growth. Maturity takes time, as does transforming us into His likeness.
If we’ve been with Jesus it will show.
Aa wonderful truth is associated with the purposes of God. He makes sure they happen. It’s not up to us at all – which is an enormous relief, given our propensity to fall short, mess up, get diverted, or run out of steam. God’s purposes are not dependent on human ability or capability, or any other natural advantage. They are the outworking of His nature, will, and spiritual principles. What this means for us is that we don’t have worry about making sure Jesus shows in and through us. If we’ve been with Jesus, it happens. He will show. The one will automatically result in the other because that’s God’s purpose. Just as we cannot make it happen, we also cannot prevent it. We can’t hide it, disguise it, ignore it, or influence it any way. The reflection of Christ in us is entirely God purposed, God empowered, and God sustained.
The other side of this particular coin is as revealing. If He’s not showing, it’s evidence that we haven’t been with Jesus. The two are inseparable truths. If we’ve spent time with Him, He will show. If we haven’t, He won’t. By the same measure, the degree to which He shows reveals the amount of time we spend with Him. It’s the same spiritual principle that governs fruits – what we put in is what we get out. In this case, of course, what we put in with Christ determines what we give out of Christ. We are blessed along the way, because we have the joy of time spent with Him and the incredible blessings of all He works in us. But the purpose here is far bigger than us. It’s about revealing Jesus in a way that is entirely supernatural and cannot be denied by even the harshest critics.
Been with Jesus is transformational.
Again, this is something over which we have no control. The incredible reality is that simply spending time with Jesus can accomplish a greater transformation than any other ‘self-help’ training out there. While boldness is specifically mentioned in today’s verse regarding Peter and John, we mustn’t be deceived into limiting this to a simple interpretation of courage or confidence. It is a supernatural confidence, faith, assurance, trust, and what I call spiritual ‘knowingness’ – the confidence of Christ Himself. That it is entirely supernatural is confirmed by the statement that this was the reason they knew the disciples had been with Jesus. In the natural, these were two ordinary and even uneducated men, yet they held their own with a supernatural confidence that defied ordinary expectation. Their time with Him had transformed them – not into better or greater men but into a mirror of Christ.
We often encourage ourselves and others with the essential truth that Jesus is able to transform us. Our expectation, though, is often limited to limited understanding. A shy person, for example, may have reasonable faith that He will transform them from this to someone able to mix and mingle without dying a million deaths each time they’re noticed. While I don’t argue that this can and does happen. God will continue to work in us restore us to the person He originally created. But the transformation that comes when we’ve been with Jesus is supernatural, not natural. We limit God when we assume He simply wants to make us ‘better’ people. He wants to make us into the likeness of Jesus. It transcends our natural man and lifts us into the supernatural. God is less into ‘fixing’ than He is into making new.
The power of been with Jesus.
To be transformed into the likeness of Christ is God’s purpose or each believer, but that transformation has a powerful personal impact. While it provides visible, tangible evidence of the supernatural presence of Jesus for those ‘out there,’ it also releases an immeasurable power into the lives of those who have been with Jesus. In simple terms, it’s the complete power to live every moment of every day above the natural. It’s the spiritual outworking of Christ in us and us in Christ. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more He is able to live in us and so empower us to live in Him. This is the root of the boldness displayed by Peter and John. Their ordinary lives became extraordinary because of Christ in them. They saw from a spiritual rather than a natural perspective.
When we live in Christ, He is our focus. We see and relate to the world on a spiritual and supernatural level that enables us to overcome. This is what it is to be transformed or made new. We begin to think with the mind of Christ. Our emotions are those of Jesus. We find ourselves reacting and responding as He would. When we’ve been with Jesus, our faith aligns with His faith, because we share His intimate knowledge of God. When we see things from the perspective of Christ in us, we see things as He does. What we see is what we become, and what we become is how we live. To live in Christ is to live in the ‘all things are possible’ of God. For Christ to live in us is to reveal to the world that same supernatural power and glory of the I AM.
Have we been with Jesus?
This is a question we should ask ourselves every day, because it’s the very foundation of our Christian walk. I’m often asked whether I get lonely out on the road for two weeks at a stretch. My response is always one of joy and thanksgiving. I knew from the beginning that God had a particular purpose – more than one, actually, but my greatest personal blessing is time with Jesus. I spend an average of four hours a day behind the wheel, and sometimes more on those long, empty stretches in Namibia or the Northern Cape. That’s four hours with Jesus. We talk, I listen to the Word, I pray, and sometimes, I simply bask in the beauty of His presence in the blessing of no distractions. At the end of the day, I know with absolute assurance that I have been with Jesus.
While we should dedicate time every day to be with Him, we can also be with Him every minute of every day. He promised He would not leave or forsake us. That means He’s there, ready and waiting, no matter where we are. We must give ourselves to prayer and worship, to intercession, and to learning the Word. But we can include Him in our everyday moments, the ordinary, even silly things. We are, each one, a beautiful tapestry of life. I want the thread that brings it and holds it all together to be Jesus. We should be jealous of our time with Him, as He is of His time with us. While having a ‘real date’ is wonderful, exciting, and stimulating, sharing the inconsequential often makes the biggest memories. Nothing is as rewarding as having been with Jesus through all moments, the little and the large.
Been with Jesus before be with Jesus.
Every true believer longs for the day that we will finally be with Jesus in eternity. But for many believers, this may well prove something of a culture shock. If we’re going to scoot through life, relegating a set time, place, and routine to spending time with Christ, we’re in for a rude awakening. Instead, we should strive to be able to look back at our lives on earth and know that we’ve been with Jesus. To be with Him for eternity should simply be the perfect outcome of a life lived with Him. Rather than simply looking forward to His eternal presence, we should seek His presence now. This is the only true legacy, the only real mark we can ever make on the world. When others remember us, will they simply say ‘gone to be with Jesus’ or will they say we have been with Jesus?
Lord, there is no greater blessing or privilege than being able to simply spend time with You. It doesn’t require rituals or complicated arrangements. All it requires is a heart that desires You as much as You desire to spend time with us. Forgive us if we’ve overlooked Your purpose. Draw us into that special place of always with You, in the little and the large. Teach us to simply come and share each moment with You. Transform us, Lord, so that who You are shines in each one of us, so that Your power and glory may be visible to the world. Let it be, Lord, that when others look at us, they know that we have been with You.