Week: 3 of 3
Day: 5 of 7
What If The Church Was Unified In Helping People Follow Jesus? (Part 5)
True unity of purpose is not affected by location.
In the first days of the church, the new followers of Jesus met together in their houses, in public places, and were ‘held in high esteem’ by their friends, neighbors and acquaintances. But Jesus had told the disciples to spread the news – first in their city (Jerusalem), out to the surrounding area (Judea), and eventually move the message out to the rest of the world.
Things were good. More and more people said ‘yes’ to following Jesus and their numbers grew. People were coming to the Apostles for healing, and the people of The Way were enjoying the comfort of their situation so much, they may have decided to just stay put. I mean, people were coming to them, what was the sense in going out? They were united, but they were not united in the mission Jesus had given them to go, baptize and teach.
The rising popularity of The Way resulted in diminishing followers for the established religious system, surely cutting into the role and prestige of the Jewish leadership. Although we decry the persecution that took place, we note in our second reading that it did accomplish God’s purpose – the message was moved out of Jerusalem to the surrounding areas.
As the believers were scattered, we read that they rediscovered their unity of purpose: “those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Exactly what Jesus had told them to do.
Being united in purpose does not require us to remain physical in the same location. For us, our ‘Jerusalem’ is our immediate environs: our neighborhoods, our workplaces and places we frequent as we go about our daily lives. Our ‘Judea’ can be areas we reach that are just a bit out of our comfort zone, maybe reaching out to someone outside our social circle, or being willing to minister to an unreached population outside our sphere of normal influence. Some of us may even have the opportunity to go to those far away places and share the gospel of Jesus, but with today’s technological reach, some may find God prompting them to reach the closed areas of the world through the means of the Internet.
Gathering together for worship and teaching is great and necessary, but that’s not the only thing, nor is it the defining characteristic of unity.
We need to be unified in our efforts to share Jesus in our neighborhoods, workplaces and anywhere our path takes us. Take time today to write down what you understand as your Jerusalem, Judea and rest of the world, and let God show you how you can help others follow Jesus.