Wednesday 11 May 2011

Bible Book:
Acts

"That day a severe persecution begain against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." (v. 1b)

Acts 8:1b-8 Wednesday 11 May 2011

Background

My Dad used to say, "It is an ill wind that does no good". Bythat he meant that even in the most difficult of circumstances somegood can come. This passage is an illustration of that. For thosefirst followers, imprisoned and traumatised, it must have been likethe end of their hopes. Stephen's death however triggered twoimportant events:

  • the followers of Christ are scattered throughout Judea andSamaria
  • the first time the name of Saul is mentioned in the NewTestament.

The result was that the Church was spread and the personwho will one day influence its development was first engaged withthe gospel. Saul, who will one day change his name to Paul,witnesses and approves of the death of Stephen - the firstChristian martyr.

It feels like Walt Disney's  Fantasia's Sorcerer's Apprentice where thestriking down of the one broom leads to the multiplication of morebrooms. There appears to be an inexorable movement forward andwhatever attempts that are made to stem it are to noavail.

The time for Saul will come later. For now, Luke (the writerof Acts) gives us a cameo picture of Philip in Samaria. Scatteredby the persecution, he preached and healed wherever he went. It waslike a bonfire in Jerusalem being disturbed and hot sparks flyingin the air and starting fires all over the region.

The contrast between the cities of Jerusalem and Samaria isgreat. The passage concludes, "there was great joy in that city".Jerusalem's loss is Samaria's gain. The wind of persecutions thatblew through Jerusalem were doing good elsewhere.

 

To Ponder

For you, when have times of good come out of verydifficult experiences?

Philip preached and healed. Has your church gotthe right balance between words and action? How might itimprove?

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