sábado, 1 de outubro de 2011

Strange Factor

In my post, the ‘Strange Omission’, I said that “prayerlessness is the Church’s major malady”.

Today, I want to speak about another weakness of the Church - the ‘Strange Factor’, which is the hidden message of the Acts of the Apostles.

Christians often think that the Acts of the Apostles records the first Christians' obedience to the Great Commission. But, is that right?

It might sound ‘strange’, but in the book of Acts (although we don’t see it straightaway because it is hidden) Christians were very reluctant to venture beyond the borders of Judaism. A closer look shows that if there had not been a “great persecution” in Jerusalem, Christians would probably have stayed in the capital indefinitely (Acts 8:1).

So, the ‘Strange Factor’ in the book of Acts of the Apostles (the hidden message), is 'reluctance'.

In Romans 16:25-26 Paul speaks about a mystery, going on to reveal that this mystery, which had been kept secret since the world began, is the gospel, the salvation that should be preached to all nations. This was at the heart of his calling, just as God had told Ananias about Saul's calling:

Acts 9:15: “This man is my chosen instrument, to carry my name before the gentiles”

But, was it at the heart of the Jewish Christians, also called Hebrew Christians?

The book of Acts shows how reluctant the Jews were to preach the gospel to the gentiles.

Even the leading apostle, Peter, was very reluctant to associate with gentiles, hence the reason that God gave a vision and said:

“Get up Peter. Kill and eat. Peter replied, I have never eaten anything impure. Then, when Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius, the Gentile, stopped at the gate.” Acts 10: 12-17

Peter needed that vision to go to Cornelius’ house and preach the gospel we find recorded in Acts. 10:34-43.

But, it was not just the first Christians who showed reluctance. The Church of Christ throughout its history on earth has always shown reluctance in obeying the Great Commission.

“Sit down, young man! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He’ll do it without you or me!” said John C. Ryland, a senior Baptist minister in the 1780’s to the young man before him - William Carey.

Do you know what the cause of offense was?

William Carey had suggested that the Great Commission, the mandate of Christ to go to the ends of the earth, was binding not just in the Acts of the Apostles, but also upon every succeeding generation of Christians.

Are we reluctant to go and preach to our neighbors, colleagues, relatives, people in our streets or in the next village/town, not forgetting those who live away in another Country or Continent?

Have you spoken to anybody this week about Christ?

Have you ever considered leaving your 'comfort zone' to go to another Country and do something for Christ, even if it is just for 'short term'? Or do you just go abroad for holiday?

We need prayer, good meetings and solid teaching in our Churches, but our primordial task is to go and preach the Gospel to the lost and we must be involved in it.

Jerusalem (evangelism 1)

Judea and Samaria (evangelism 2)

The end of the earth (evangelism 3).

In the three parables in Matthew 21:28-22:14, Jesus teaches about God taking His kingdom from one people and giving it to another people.

In the second parable “The Parable of the Talents” – Jesus said:

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits”.

Are we producing fruits, or have we fallen in the same apathy that we see in West Countries, where Churches are developing social and anthropological areas (that's good), but are ignoring the Great Commission?

Many Churches are saying, “Come, we have the best meetings in our community", instead of saying “Go and preach the gospel to all creation!"

Our disobedience will not stop God fulfilling His eternal purpose, but we will miss out and God will give the task to other people!

If we won’t miss out, why would I be bothered to write this post?

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