[今日經文 Today’s Reading: 使徒行傳 Acts 8-9]
在公元 33 至 64 年間，一個新的運動誕生了。在這三十年裡，它獲得了足夠的成長和信譽，成為世界上最大的宗教，並改變了數億人的生活。 … 它對文明、文化、教育、醫學、自由，當然還有全世界無數人的生活產生了不可磨滅的影響。
教會不能只是回顧過去，希望回到“過去的美好時光”；這些再也回不來了。現在首字母縮略詞“B.C.”是代表“在 COVID 之前”。讓我們砥礪前行，進入新的未知領域，傳福音的道，再次改變世界！
The early church in Jerusalem enjoyed great success with many people daily becoming believers. Yet God’s heart was for all the nations, not just for the people in Jerusalem. Ironically, it was through severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem that the disciples were scattered throughout the regions of Samaria and Judea. And those who were scattered did not go into hiding but went about preaching the word!
The title of a book by Michael Green vividly summarizes early church expansion: Thirty Years That Changed the World. Green writes:
In the years between AD 33 and 64 a new movement was born. In those thirty years it got sufficient growth and credibility to become the largest religion the world has ever seen and to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. … It has had an indelible impact on civilization, on culture, on education, on medicine, on freedom and of course on the lives of countless people worldwide.
In one way, COVID-19 may look like it has been a form of “persecution” as many churches have lost members who stayed away at its onset and then just never returned. In another way, though, through it God is breaking down the wall of churches. Many Christians who have been scattered to different places are increasingly preaching the word through various virtual formats such as social media and youtube as well as through holding small gatherings in their homes. God’s word can never be confined! Like the early church, we have learned that when “persecution” comes, it is put to use by God’s hands to force the church out of her comfort zone, to enter new territory and a new era!
The church cannot just look back and wish for “the good old days”; these can never come back. Now the acronym “B.C.” stands for “Before COVID”. Let us move forward and go into new and unknown territory, to preach the word, and to once again change the world!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the “persecution” in our lives, knowing that it is Your means to move us to what You have destined for us and for Your church. May we follow Your lead to preach the word wherever we are and wherever we go! In Jesus’ name, Amen.