Beyond our Comfort Zone

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [1]

Here, Jesus gives the apostles the road-map of the mission that lies before them.  The plan was simple; keep being witnesses everywhere until you reach the ends of the earth.  So simple and yet imagine how daunting this must have been for a group of Jewish follower to grasp.  After a lifetime of being raised with the idea that Samaritans are the untouchables of society, now their Master is giving them their marching orders that included the Samaritans!  Possibly the disciples thought it was a one-time incident they could overlook when Jesus was speaking with the woman at the well, but now He is telling them to go after he is ascended into heaven.

There seems to have been some hesitancy of the disciples to be moved beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem after the promised Spirit had come upon them.  We notice this by observing that in chapters 3-7 of the book of Acts the disciples seemed to have had trouble moving beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem.  Even the amazing response at Pentecost with people from around the world doesn’t seem to move them further.  So Luke records in Acts 3-7 how they evangelized among Jerusalem’s Jewish population.  This population included those who were born into Jewish heritage and those who came to the Jewish faith from Gentile backgrounds.  Right away, we see the young church having to address the unequal distribution of food among the widows, apparently along ethnic and linguistic lines.

It’s strange, but all these years later, the church still seems to struggle with crossing ethnic lines.  Remember, when Jesus spoke of reaching every nation, he meant people groups, not just geographical political nations.  It should give us encouragement for us to discover that the early church, though having received their marching orders into all the world directly from the risen Christ still had difficulties at first getting out from their comfort zone to cross ethnic lines.

However, the good news is that they did it!  They used the power from the Holy Spirit coming upon them to overcome the ethnic and linguistic barriers to reach the world with the message of God’s love.  Today, I challenge us to look with fresh eyes upon the command of Christ for the church.  Let’s be bold with the power of the Spirit, get out of our comfort zone and be his witnesses in all cultures!

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 1:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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