You don’t have to be an intrepid traveller to engage in Mission!
Jesus’ command to the disciples was to start the work where they were – in Jerusalem. Travelling would come later.
So this week we read about the very first period of expansion of the Church as the number of disciples grew in Jerusalem. You will find, as I did, that it is not a story of perfect people. Luke paints the picture of life together with the mistakes in full view too. This is a real story with encouragement to follow good examples.
v 4. But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totalled about 5,000.
We tend to think that all Jews believed the same things – and they didn’t. Paul highlighted the division between the Pharisees and the Sadducees at one stage in Acts 23:8, ‘the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these’. Peter and John were arrested at this point because they were talking about the resurrection of Jesus, so it is not surprising that it was the Sadducees (vv 1-2) who instigated the attack on them. They were not jailed however until a very large number had heard the message of Jesus’ resurrection and had believed what was being preached to them. The church grew phenomenally fast at this point, with large numbers believing the message.
It is clear that Peter was not interested in any kind of theological debate or argument – all he could do was to point to the changed life of a cripple. ‘Look’ he said, ‘This is what Jesus has done for this man. Surely you aren’t arresting us for doing something good in this man’s life.’
Lives changed by the power of God are the ultimate evidence and testimony to the truth of the gospel that is preached. This is why over the years many Christians have gladly and openly testified to what God has done in their lives. Pray for opportunities to speak about faith in some kind of personal testimony about God in your everyday life – and then for the courage to speak up with grace and tact.