From Far Off or From Near

Now those who were scattered went from place to place, preaching the word. (Acts 8:4)

Would there even be a Church if Saul hadn’t started persecuting the followers of the Way?

Jesus had complained earlier to his disciples and to the people listening to him that “you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they who testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40).

It may not have been exactly comfortable for the early apostles after Jesus’ death and resurrection, but at least they were all together in the temple, praising God and sharing everything with each other.

Saul’s persecution changed everything, however, and scattered the apostles out into the world. Without that push they may never have discovered that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. They might never have discovered that Jesus was also with “those who are far off” as well as “those who are near.” What happened after the persecution? “The apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God” (Acts 8:14).

We can always stand to learn the lesson again. Our study of the Scriptures and the life we share in Christ is not about comfort, but about preparation. We want to be sure that when we meet Jesus where he already is, we will recognize him. As he said himself, we can’t do that if our nose is stuck in a book, even if it is the Good Book.

Jesus is waiting to give life to everyone, if we will come to him. Whether we come from far off or from near, Lord, “open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us” (BCP 372).

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