Acts 8:4, Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word.
At this time in Acts, the early Church had grown immensely. After Pentecost, they went from barely any believers to over 3,000 believers who gathered regularly for worship. Things were going well for these early Christians—the apostles were healing and performing other miracles, there were no divisions among the believers, then persecution suddenly came and they were dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria. At the time, this may have felt like a loss, but they would soon see it as a great opportunity. Now they had new neighbours with whom they could share the Gospel.
Yesterday, I wrote about the future gathering of God’s elect. We gather together every Sunday to worship God as a foretaste of the greater gathering to come at Christ’s return. Today, the focus is on our dispersion. There’s a pattern throughout Christian history that rulers attempt to spread us out in order to weaken Christianity, but little do they realise this is actually strengthening our mission to fulfil the Great Commission—to make disciples of all nations and baptise them in the Holy Trinity and teach them Christ’s commands. Dispersing us throughout the world or various parts of the country we live in only makes our mission that much easier. By dispersing Christians, their plan backfires and Christianity actually blossoms in new areas. Not even killing us seems to weaken Christianity. History has shown that whenever Christians are persecuted and killed for Christ’s sake, not only do Christians endure through the suffering and pain and remain in the faith, but others become Christians as well. It doesn’t seem there’s any way to stop us from our mission. Yet I think the only thing that really stops us from our Christian mission is being left alone and becoming indolent in our peaceful homes.
That being said, our home congregations are nice and comfy. Many of us do not want to leave. However, God does not command we stay in our comfy church buildings and keep Him all to ourselves. Rather, He commands we get involved in our communities in order to bring others into the Church to receive His grace. Each member in each congregation can reach out to parts of the community in unique ways. For example, I’m the only member of my congregation who has good connections with my alma mater. Because of these connections I have, I sought ways in which my church could serve my alma mater. Other members of the congregation have people they can reach out to that I don’t have the ability to do. We are all dispersed throughout our communities, and it is God’s desire that we use our vocations to bring His grace into the world so that they might be brought into the Church. Paul said, “I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8). In our baptism we begin to live holy lives through prayer and living without anger and quarreling. It is God’s desire that we live this way in every place, not just in church. This does not mean to get the Church involved with the State, or to get the Church to set laws on businesses. What it means is to love people as Christ would in servitude. In every place, then, let us show others the grace and mercy of God through the way we live.