One thing that we have heard for six straight months now is about the spreading of a virus. The interesting thing is, the spreading of Christianity has a similarity to the spreading of a virus. All it takes is the right environment. Jesus had told the disciples that they would be witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth in Acts 1:8. Up until this point in the book of Acts, the Gospel has stayed in Jerusalem. However, with the events of Acts 7 and into the opening of Acts 8, the environment was right for Christianity to spread. Acts 7 closes with the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This sets the stage for what we read in Acts 8:1, “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Did you see where they were scattered to? God was fulfilling His promise to spread the Gospel to Judea and Samaria. However, just like the spread of a virus, the environment for spreading the Gospel was not necessarily a favorable environment to those living in it.

God spread the message of Christianity through suffering and persecution of His followers. We see this over and over, not only in the Bible, but also in history. The stronger the persecution, the stronger the church and the further the Gospel spreads. This is why I believe we as Christians are wrong to pray that God would keep persecution away from us, or that He would remove it from us. Persecution is God’s environment of purification in the lives of His people. As much as COVID-19 has not been enjoyable, I truly believe that this is the church in America’s Acts 8:1 moment. Jesus gave us the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. However, for far too longer, we as Christians have tried to gather into our holy huddles, build bigger ministries, focus on making converts, but not do the one thing that God has called us to do. At the end of March, as things began to shut down, churches had to focus on getting the Gospel out to their neighbor through different means. No, the virus isn’t persecution, but it is God’s method of getting His children to do what we should have been doing the whole time. We started noticing our families more, spending more time with them, and learning to disciple them. We started noticing our neighbors and showing the love of Christ to them. These are all very, very good things. Hopefully, we will have learned this lesson and long after COVID-19 disappears from our vocabulary, we will continue to do what we have recently started doing. I’m not saying that difficulties are fun, because they aren’t. However, we should learn to embrace them, because they are for God’s glory and our good. God uses difficulties in our lives to trim the fat in our lives, those things that we focus on that we shouldn’t. God uses them to narrow our focus. But He can also use those things that we go through to reach others. However, God uses them, He is glorified through them when we are faithful to Him, and that is what matters. So, hang in there, keep praying, and keep trusting. God has a plan, and He is working it out, and it is going to be perfect.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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