Wednesday, October 12, 2016
“Scattered” is found in sixty-nine verses in the Bible – from Genesis 11:4 and again in 8 regarding Babel to I Peter 1:1:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1 Peter 1:1 KJV)
In both instances, people scattered and spread quickly in different directions – most likely random directions. There are a number of instances where we see the results of these random scatterings fulfilling God’s work.
As Acts chapter 7 ends and 8 begins, we can’t see good results possible. Well, without the rest of the story, I certainly couldn’t. Stephen dies in 7, simply for speaking the history of the Jewish people and their relationship with God. Read it, please. Was he wrong? Could that same sermon be preached to Christians today? Would any preacher give the sermon that Christians have failed – and be able to retain his position in the church? Most likely he would be fired, not treated as Stephen:
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. (Acts 7:57-58 KJV)
That same young man who kept the garments from being bloodied accepted the task of ridding the country of Christians:
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3 KJV)
You can read of what happened that turned him from Saul the havoc creator to Paul the missionary in the book of Acts. I want to focus on the next verse:
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (Acts 8:4 KJV)
Would they have done it without persecution? Would they have scattered, preaching the word – that Jesus was born, ministered, was crucified and (most importantly) was resurrected. Today there are places where Christ’s message of love and service is persecuted. Christians have been taken captive, tortured and killed in more places than the Middle East. Yet His message is spread by those who scatter.
God did not create the situations where those who believe in Him are scattered. Men do that as part of their own choice to refuse, deny or ignore His message. God allows mankind to do so, but He does not make their decisions for them. He will reach out. He reached out to Saul, which eventually turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
No one is hauling us from our homes, so why aren’t we turning our world upside down? Why am I not continually speaking the Gospel to loved ones who are articulately open in their unbelief? Basically, it is to keep peace, to keep our world level.
As one of our visiting missionaries put it so well, we need to be praying that God will prepare their hearts for the reception of His word. I have not done that well. My prayers have been that God would send someone to give them the good news that God is love – but I have not turned my world upside down. My failure, not God’s.
Success could come by following what Paul wrote to the Ephesians.
But speaking the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15a KJV)
Go ahead, read the whole verse, along with those before and after. Read in context and ask yourself – as I’m asking myself – have I spoken God’s truth in love to those I love? Must we be scattered to do so?