Examples of the Kingdom#4 -- Crossing boundaries in Antioch
|Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts11:19-26)|
A key lesson we learn is that God blesses a church where every member is a minister.
The founding and prospering of the church at Antioch was arguably one of the most significant events in history. It led to the distinctiveness of the Christian church, in that it blended together in one body both Jews and Gentiles. It was here that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians and mission outreaches to Asia Minor and Greece were launched from here. You and I conceivably would not be Christians today had it not been for God's blessing on this church.
This church was not founded by apostles or ministers or trained missionaries but by unnamed men who were scattered because of persecution and came to Antioch speaking, not just to the Jews, but to the Greeks (Gentiles). The Greek word for "speak" is the word for normal conversation. These men did not preach as orators in the marketplace. Rather, in their everyday contacts, they told others about Jesus Christ. There is reason to believe that Luke was a native of Antioch. Perhaps as a doctor, he was treating a man who told him about Jesus Christ, leading to his conversion.
These men remain unnamed for a reason. If they had been named, we would hold them up as missionary heroes. We would think that what they did was something that we could never do. But their remaining unnamed tells us that they were common men who had met the Lord Jesus and who wanted others to know Him, too. We all can do what they did.
Even when Barnabas and Saul rose to positions of leadership through their teaching ministry, this church did not depend on them in order to function. They sent them off on a relief mission to Jerusalem and on missionary journeys and kept operating. This was because this church knew the principle of the body, that God has gifted every member and each one is expected to exercise his or her gift in ministry.
If the spreading of the gospel or the functioning of the church depends on the labours of full-time workers, ministry will be severely limited. But if every person who has trusted in Christ alone as Saviour and Lord feels the obligation of serving Him and of telling others the good news about Him, the gospel will spread and the church will be built up.
The Revd. Armando Sontange is married to Shumikazi. Armando has a blessed calling indeed:
- Shumikazi calls him Honey
- Kwezi, Litha and Khanyo call him Dad
- Mithali and Oyama call him Grand Dad
- The folks at Kagiso Presbyterian Church call him their Moruti and preacher
- And God calls him His.
Not bad Huh??
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