The First Century followers of Jesus faced some hard days. One of their number had been stoned, and after Stephen was killed, it seemed a rage poured out against all who called themselves members of The Way. The book of Acts says a great persecution broke out against the church. Then a moving verse follows:
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.*
Here they were, suffering for their faith, barely trained in the modern-day mindset, and yet, they preached the word wherever they went. Persecution, scattering did not stop the message of the good news of Jesus that they had experienced. They’d been living the dream these last days after Pentecost. The Apostles were teaching them daily and they were sharing everything in common. Signs and wonders were being done in their midst.
Then it started. Some of the original Twelve were jailed. Questions were raised; threats were made. Even though they were ultimately freed, they still faced flogging — no small matter, but painful, severe punishment just for believing in Jesus.
Yet, their release, their suffering spurred on the larger group of followers. They were encouraged and emboldened. Stephen, a newly appointed deacon, was obviously filled with the Spirit when he shared boldly to the Sanhedrin. Yet, that didn’t stop their anger and indignation toward this new faith that threatened everything in Judaism.
So they stoned him. Persecution was encouraged. Believers scattered.
But — they kept preaching the word.
Are you among the scattered? By war, by immigration, by persecution? Has hardship taken you in a direction you never dreamed you’d be forced to go?
Maybe your scattering has come in the form of moving because of work or marriage, or even the death of a loved one.
So many things in life force us out of our comfort zone, shake our dream life. The question is: What do we do when we’re scattered physically and emotionally? Is the word silenced in us, or do we take it with us and continue to share?
This may make you ask another question that is even harder: Was I sharing the word before being scattered?
As a result of that horrible persecution, God spread his church among the nations of the world. Yet, he could not have done this if those who claim to follow him did not keep sharing the word wherever they went.
I want to be counted among the scattered! Near or far, may he find me preaching the word, pointing people to Jesus.
Are you counted among the scattered? It’s not too late!
Grace and Peace
*Acts 8:4 (NIV).