I’ve been reading through Acts over my morning coffee over the last few weeks. I am ashamed to say with over 10 years of faith, I’ve never read through the whole book. Parts and excerpts I have studied, but never the whole picture. It’s been a learning experience in both the person of the Holy Spirit and how God orchestrates events to further the gospel.
With many being added to the church daily, powerful acts of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of believers…they were comfortable in where they were. I’m not denying there wasn’t challenges or uncomfortable moments, but all in all, there was unity in a large body of believers with the disciples teaching and very obvious works of the Holy Spirit being displayed. Who would want to leave this spiritually and relationally rich place?
Pretty much everyone, it turns out. Persecution strikes the early church and we see, by God’s great design, His purpose and His plan….
“…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8b ESV)
And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
(Acts 8:1b ESV)
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
(Acts 8:4 ESV, emphasis mine)
Knowing our propensity for the comfortable, God made Jerusalem distinctly uncomfortable to bring the Word to the world. And what the early church started, we are laboring to finish. We are still reaching the ends of the earth today, trying to get the Word to every tribe and nation. Even in our much smaller world thanks to television, computers and cell phones, there are still unreached people groups.
I’m not called to be a missionary to other parts of the world at this point in my life. But I’m still called to be a missionary. My children, friends, neighbors, even casual contacts are all a field ripe for harvest. Jesus told His disciples to pray for laborers for the harvest. Too often I don’t pray to be used that way. Fear ends up tying my tongue and I let opportunities for the gospel to pass. Pray that His love will cast out my fears and I will be a confident laborer for Him. Not confident in myself or my words…but confidence in Him who is the Word and the Redeemer of men.