E-votional - Jerusalem and Antioch

“News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion;”

Acts 11:19-26(NRSV)


Just a couple of days ago, we shocked at the news that North Korea detonated a nuclear device underground. What would this mean, what could this mean. One thing was for sure, there was going to be a response. In fact, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that would impose harsh sanctions against North Korea just six days later. Unanimously passed the resolution. Solidarity. Unity. Of one accord. It is clear that when people find a clear purpose, we can and will accomplish anything. When people realize the power and the responsibility of resources, from a humanistic perspective, these same people want to make a difference. In fact, when the walls of difference are knocked down, the binding hope and power of similarity often prevails.

Hear the Good News, as much a difference as we think we can make, nothing can compare to the difference God can and does make. After Stephen's death, there was much fear and trepidation resulting in the scattering of the Christians, however, God had something in store for the Christians. While the Christians did scatter, they also mobilize The Message. A new people were told of who Jesus Christ was and what that meant for them. The result was many were added to the fold. The mother church, Jerusalem, the home base for the Twelve, were surprised by the report of amazing things in Antioch. They were also concerned. People join movements and ministries even today for reason that are anything but Christians. Further, ministry to Gentiles was not what they had in mind for the Church. So they send Barnabas to assess this foreign movement. But as Barnabas arrives, he quickly realizes this is not the work of men, but of God. Later we learn that the Antioch church ends up reaching out to the churches in Judea. Now if that isn't unity and solidarity, I don't quite know what else to make of it. When God unites us, it is His grace that is imparted among us, binding us from the outside in. Maybe we should be more thoughtful of when we say "they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"

What we could learn from this church in Antioch, and from the church in Jerusalem. Antioch was open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Jerusalem, they were simply open to seeing the results. Maybe if we began to recognize what God is doing in the world, maybe if we were open to allowing the Spirit to move in our life, we could wake to a Body of Christ united, instead of divided.

It would have been a shame if Antioch and Jerusalem would have gone in separate directions, yet I believe God would have still prevailed. Unification, solidarity it has an amazing effect. Look again at the UN Security Council. This is unity from man, and yet it makes quite a difference. Imagine what a difference we would see if it was of God. We might see a change in the whole world.


   Gracious God, thank You for Your Spirit and Your presence in my life. Help me to see and to recognize what you are doing in my midst and around the world. As I am able to see, allow me to respond, not by my power, but by Yours alone. Finally, unify Your creations as we come to know You and know You better. And above all, thank You for all You have done and all You continue to do. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Grace & Peace

Rev. David Banks
First United Methodist Church of Onalaska
PO Box 596
Onalaska, TX 77360
(936) 646-5859


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