Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
The passion to evangelize
“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
It is said that the blood of the martyrs makes for the most fertile ground for the growth of the church. Although this is a macabre statement to make, it was true in the time of Christ and continues to be true today. Even though there are increasingly fewer numbers who identify themselves to be Christians in western nations such as the United States, France, the United Kingdom, etc…, ever-growing numbers of people in countries such as China, North Korea, Iran are coming to Christ despite persecution from state authorities.
The believers reacted to the persecution written about in this passage counter-intuitively, at least if seen by the eyes of an outsider. They did not stop their activities, but traveled even further to spread the good news of the Kingdom. Persecution had merely poured kerosene on the flames of evangelization. Some of the believers only went to what was familiar to them – they went to the Jews
However, others went to a people vastly different from the Jews – they went to the Greeks. Much of Greek thought and culture had permeated and informed that of Rome. The Roman gods were simply Roman names put over those of Greek gods i.e. Jupiter was Zeus, Mar was Ares, and so on. Many of the teachers in Roman schools were Greek or had been taught under the Grecian system. So the believers were in effect spreading the gospel to the people who had taught their Roman oppressors. The friend of my enemy is normally my enemy but what Christ had put into the hearts of his disciples had turned this norm of thinking on its head.
At its core, the Gospel is not exclusive but inclusive. It can adapt to any people or to any culture in any era. The apostle Paul, who, if he had continued his path before he met Christ, would have become a respected leader in his Jewish community, was transformed on the dusty road to Damascus, moved out of his comfort zone, became the one who argued most strenuously for the inclusion of non-Jews into the church and finally ended his days under a Roman sword holding on to a fervent belief in a man that he had never met except in a vision.
The transformation of those who first followed Christ infected others to the extent that millions continue to put their faith in a way that had been lost till Jesus began to teach a group of fishermen to cast their net for humans instead of fish on the Sea of Galilee almost two thousand years ago.
Prayer: Dear God we praise you for your son Jesus who transforms us every day. Amen
Thought for the day: Move out of our comfort zones.
Philip Varghese, St. John’s MTC, New York.