Sunday, October 4, 2015

EmmDev 2015-10-04 [Month of Mission 2015] Antioch - Transformed

Antioch - Transformed

When the church in Jerusalem got wind of this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check on things. As soon as he arrived, he saw that God was behind and in it all. He threw himself in with them, got behind them, urging them to stay with it the rest of their lives. He was a good man that way, enthusiastic and confident in the Holy Spirit's ways. The community grew large and strong in the Master. Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. He found him and brought him back to Antioch. They were there a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching a lot of people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians.      (Acts11:22-26)
We live in pretty despairing/hopeless times where it is easy to get discouraged by life. The first topic of conversation at most gatherings is how bad the current political/social/economic climate is and if this is really a place where one wants to live and bring up children in.

Antioch was not much better, it was the centre of several pagan cults and an important commercial city, it was also the base for Paul's missionary journeys. But it was a place where the term Christians (Christ-ones) was first coined and it was vitally important to the early church. So it is to this place that Barnabas arrives and begins transforming the early church.

It is interesting to note that this church had little in common but Christ – it was a diverse church, just like the UPCSA, but a clear illustration of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that Christ can and does cross all boundaries and unifies His people.

When Barnabas arrives "he threw himself in with them, got behind them", he did not leave the church as it was when he arrived; his job was to transform them – through the power of the Holy Spirit – and as a result of this they grew large and strong.

Our job as Christ-ones is to transform ourselves and others through the power of the Holy Spirit, and this can only be done when, like Paul and Barnabas who stayed in Antioch for a year, we invest our lives in others' lives. Then we not leave them as we found them but we transform them, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Have you helped someone recently believe in Christ?

When was the last time you invested yourself in personally teaching and encouraging a person? Helping them transform into Christ-ones?
Transformation is not a one-time or solitary event, isn't it time we throw ourselves in and get behind them?

Ruth Armstrong is the minister at St Andrews Germiston who is an avid reader and consumer of all genres of books!

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