The sermon this past week focused on Acts 8 and the persecution of the early church. We know from our previous study in Acts that the gospel was going to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). From Acts 2-7 we see the church in Jerusalem. It has grown substantially in size and strength. The Spirit is empowering God’s people to do amazing things, but the problem is that the church is still only in Jerusalem. The time for expansion has come. Pastor Viars said several times something close to, “when you are in hard times, find a Samaritan.” His point is that hard times breed opportunities for church expansion.
In the process, Pastor Viars gave a bit of history related to the Jew and Samaritan animosity. The Samaritans had abandoned the Jewish faith because they created a separate worship center. The Samaritans had also abandoned their ethnic heritage by intermarriage with foreign men and women that, in the minds of the Jews, had corrupted pure Jewish blood and violated the commandments of God. Most of the damage had been done many years before the time in Christ, but it is during the time of Christ when we see the animosity at work.
The Gospel Overcomes Ethnic Boundaries
But in Acts something happens. The Spirit works and those who were scattered shared Christ with the Samaritans (and the Ethopian). When they sent word back to the apostles in Jerusalem, Peter and John were dispatched … talk about two heavy hitters! There was great rejoicing at the number of people coming to Christ (8:8).
That leads me to this thought … do we view people through the grid of ethnicity (which is a much better word than race, since all humans are part of the human race), or through the grid of eternity? Phillip was constrained by the latter. What are you constrained by?
Oh that we would all remember the words of the little chorus some of us learned as children …
Jesus loves the little children [the big ones too]
All the children of the world,
Red, and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Let’s not allow ethnic, economic, or social differences keep us from inviting others to church, keep us from sharing the love of Jesus, or most importantly giving them the gospel of the Lord Jesus – the One who is mighty to save. After all, one of the barriers that the cross destroyed was the barrier of ethnicity (Eph 2:11-22). Until the whole world hears!
Have you missed any of these Acts posts? Find all of them under the Acts 2011 tag.