Don’t shut shop! Wednesday, 3rd Week of Easter- Acts 8:1b-8 ( read up to verse 12 for a better understanding)
There is sadness and joy woven together in the same passage; perhaps a well-rounded presentation of Christian life. There are some who believe that being a Christian is like wearing a coat of armour, a sort of protection from the challenges that life throws us. Not so, for Christian life is a balance of both; the Lord gives the Lord takes, blessed be His name.
We are told of a great persecution began in the Church in Jerusalem the day Stephen was stoned. The apostles remained in Jerusalem but the disciples scattered through the countryside. The main protagonist of these persecutions is Saul of Tarsus whose brutal methods included dragging men and women from their house to prison. There was no charge against these Christians nor does it seem that Saul had any authority but perhaps this well describes the madness that surrounds religious jingoism; law gets taken into ones hand.
But while Saul ravaged the Church, the Acts tells of the workings of the Holy Spirit through another man. While Jerusalem was being ravaged, Samaria was being healed. As I mentioned before, of the seven deacons named in Acts, only two find mention again in the New Testament. We heard of Stephen and now we hear of Philip the Deacon. This table boy, like Stephen, shares in the ministry of preaching, teaching and healing and the impact that he makes is sufficient to bring in the big guns from Jerusalem as back up. We are told in verse 14 that the apostles sent Peter and John to help Philip.
For many Christians engaged in ministry, obstacles such as the persecution experienced by the Early Church are reason for them to shut shop. The Early Church teaches us how to take the rough and tumble in our stride but to also pick up the pieces and move on. What man sees as failure is often opportunity in God’s eyes. He needs us to trust in Him.
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