What The World Learns From You
19” Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” Acts 11:19-21 NKJV
Our society seems to be in a hurry to embrace the things of darkness. And the world seems to be rushing to all things that are opposed to the things of God. In fact, it feels as though with each passing month there is less and less tolerance for people who truly walk out their lives in Jesus. We see more stories in the media of believers who are suffering attacks both verbally and legally because of what they believe and how they live their lives that is evidence of those beliefs. It can be disheartening when you see these things coming. But instead, it should be an encouragement to us all as well as a challenge for how we live our lives because the world is always watching us.
There may be more persecution headed our way, but it is during times of persecution that as followers and servants of Jesus we can affect the greatest change for the kingdom of God. When persecution came to the early church revival came with it. In the verses above we see that it was the persecution of the followers of Jesus that led them. Persecution led them away from their fellow Jews and into the society of the Gentiles. There the followers of Christ witnessed to them and Jesus moved in powerful ways.
No one would argue that in this country our culture desperately needs Jesus. However, the church today (by this I mean you and me individually as well as collectively) tends to attempt to win our society in a way that does not line up with what we see in the verses above. Look at how verse 21 reads in the Amplified Bible, “And the presence of the Lord was with them with power, so that a great number [learned] to believe (to adhere to and trust in and rely on the Lord) and turned and surrendered themselves to Him.”
These believers witnessed to others about Jesus and the presence of Jesus went with them with power. They simply shared what they knew about Jesus and the presence and power of Jesus went with them. Through this, the Gentiles learned to believe and trust in Jesus. They learned how to adhere or stick with Jesus in every situation or circumstance. In learning about Jesus the Gentiles surrendered themselves to Jesus.
We feel as though we have to win those around us with our powerful words and our strong arguments that counter their doubts and unbelief. The time of persecution means the world is ready to hear our witness and learn from our life experience with Him. Be like the believers of Acts 11. Share what you know and Jesus will go before you with power and others will learn how to trust and they will give themselves freely and joyously to Jesus.
J. Todd Hostetler