The early church had no desire to leave Jerusalem after Pentecost. Why would they? By Acts 2, they shared everything in common, were receiving healing, seeing miracles, and new believers were being added to their number daily. They basked in worship and prayer and had even figured out a structure of organized leadership with apostles, teachers, and deacons to meet needs. Agape love was overarching, attributed to every disciple who followed the teachings of Jesus. It sounds like heaven! Who would leave? But Jesus’ command was to “go into all the world…” (Mark 16:15-18)
It’s human nature to appreciate comfort. Sometimes we snuggle up to words like “stability,” “faithfulness,” and “duty” for the moral argument to maintain comfortable circumstances. Those are all great concepts as traits of a person’s character but how much would truly be accomplished for the sake of the Gospel if those are too liberally applied to our circumstances?
The early church learned what we have the opportunity to learn even now: persecution creates diaspora. When Acts 8 hit, the new church learned the adrenaline pulsing push of running for their lives. The physical and even relational consequences of diaspora are often horrifying if you remember stories of Nero’s reign of terror. In light of the heavenly gain, however, there is no more liberating cause or force for ejecting us from the comfortable cushion between us and our mission. The concept of “Divide and Conquer” found in Sun Tsu’s book The Art of War was forcefully applied in an effort to destroy the early church but, rather than being conquered, they divided and conquered, taking the Gospel to the nations in a way that would have been impossible had they continued to cluster in Jerusalem.
Those of you who have followed here for many years may note the contrast between this and my post written about college entitled "Divide and Conquer" in 2012. Always intently press into God's leading for YOUR life!
You may say that you prefer comfort. Most do! Many in the early church were even hunted down and murdered but our broken world’s system of manipulation and usury is truly worse than death (can I get an AMEN!?). The trade-off is that we get to be the ultimate rebels, add our sacrifice to the metaphoric salt shaker of history (Mark 9:49-50), and our heavenly reward can never be taken away from us! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) The best part, however, is that diaspora spreads the Gospel to the world like an antibody that spreads a cure. As a missional disciple, persecuted for tearing up your sleepy, comfortable cage, you are the cure carrier (Matthew 9:12-13)! The world needs what you have! Agape love is believed to be a myth. Hope is flickering out in the press of darkness. People are dying from their need for both. We can’t cluster with other cure carriers or the cure is wasted on us!
Disciples wake up! The mission is upon us! The time is NOW to bring the Gospel to the world!