I am currently reading through the Book of Acts again. In it the author, Luke, tells the story of the Early Church, following on from his earlier description (in the Gospel of Luke) of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts is the story of the Church, which against all odds, marched on and took the 1st Century world by storm.
Not that it was easy! The early Christians and missionaries faced many difficulties and challenges. They travelled great distances by sea or land, faced persecution and rejection, had to overcome cultural and language barriers in different countries, while trying to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus of Nazareth is the Saviour of the world. After the first eight chapters, Luke begins to focus on the life and travels of the Apostle Paul – how he persecuted Christians, became a Christian himself, travelled to distant places to establish churches, and ended up in Rome, the capital of one of the largest and most successful empires in history.
The story of Paul ends with Paul in Rome where, although under house arrest, had freedom to preach the Gospel to all who paid him a visit. This proves both the far-reaching impact of the Gospel of Christ, as well as the fact that spreading the Gospel is still an unfinished task. Hence the “open-ended” ending of the Book of Acts.
And this is where we fit into the story…
As an international church we, in some sense, face similar challenges to that of the Early Church. Many of us travelled great distances to get to Bratislava, experienced culture shock, while we continue to face cultural and language barriers on a daily basis. But my encouragement from the story in Acts is that none of these things should prevent us from being effective witnesses in the places where we live, work and play. Just as the Holy Spirit filled and used the early believers, so we can trust Him to empower us and use us as instruments in his hands to spread the Good News that Jesus is Lord and Saviour.
May He make us faithful in shining the Light in our world!