And Saul approved of his execution. Saul, a young Pharisee, a zealot for all that was tradition and law, is caught in the drama of his mentors’ rage. Holder of their robes while they carry out the murder of Stephen, he did not actually throw a rock but he approved of the rock throwing. He aspired to be such a rock thrower.
And so the persecution of God’s church begins – an inquisition of sorts – Saul, sadly misdirected, takes it on with the vigor of youth and unbridled power – ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Sounds like the same fury practiced against the Jews by Hitler – frightening.)
While the faithful bury and mourn Stephen, the church is on the run…scattering from Jerusalem throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Wasn’t this exactly what Jesus had said? “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”(Acts 1:8)
(Probably not how they thought they would get there but I know what comfortable feels like and it does not promote a lot of movement or change. In fact just this week I came across a piece of art by Corrie Bates.
*The title says it all: Comfort is the Enemy of Calling. I have been pondering this thought for a few days now. It resonates with me particularly as it speaks to the church and using our gifts. We begin excited, we act, we grow, we become practiced and comfortable and then we believe someone else should, someone younger, someone with less life to handle, someone with energy…I think gifts are given by God for a reason. We don’t out grow them or age-out of our calling. Our calling might take new forms, but sitting on our laurels is not really an option if we want to live all the life Jesus gave us – the abundant one. That’s just what I think.)
Sure God could have just asked them to spread out but it might not have come about quickly enough. The hammer was dropping and they needed to get outta Dodge.
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. See? That was the idea.
Phillip went to Samaria and the crowds were ready for him. (“Fields white with harvest” comes to mind.) He preached Christ and they heard. He did signs of healing and they saw. So there was much joy in that city.
He prepares both the hearer and the messenger.
Spread the joy!
About the World?
Restless? Find your true calling – John 20:31
*http://www.behance.net/gallery/17351049/Comfort-is-the-Enemy-of-Calling (no changes were made) Permission to share under the Creative Commons license agreement Corrie Bates is an illustrator living in Florence, SC and the niece of a dear friend.