Thursday, December 31, 2015

Useful People

This morning I'm reading Acts chapter 11 over and over again. God is sending unlikely people to different groups and it is putting a social strain on the culture of the Church.

"So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 'You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.' But Peter began and explained it to them in order:" - Acts 11:2-4 ESV

"Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch." - Acts 11:19-22 ESV

"So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." - Acts 11:25-26 ESV

Peter was sent to non-Jews. Groups were evangelizing the Hellenists (Greeks). Barnabas went to look for Saul and they taught this strange mixture of people for a calendar year.

In Acts chapter 11 verse 24 it calls Barnabas a 'good' man. The Greek word used there is Agathos (Strong's G18) and it is not talking about moral goodness. This word speaks of usefulness.

"So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul." - Acts 11:29-30 ESV

Barnabas was willing to go and rejoiced at the grace of God given to people. He encouraged people. He was willing to be the one to go to those in need or carry money back to the elders in Jerusalem. None of these tasks were beneath him.

I sit here thinking of the 'good' men I know. They go. They carry. They get. They approve and edify. They aren't morally perfect. They are spiritually useful because they don't let their flaws stop them from going and doing the next thing whatever that is.

Grace makes us glad and we become useful people who repent (that word really just means to turn to God) and do the next thing.

God give us a vision of grace so that we can live in flexibility to do the next thing... to change gears if we must or keep at it if that is what is called for. Make us useful without striving. Thank You God.


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