We don’t know what it is like but we can imagine!

 That set off a terrific persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The believers were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. All, that is, but the apostles. Good and brave men buried Stephen, giving him a solemn funeral—not many dry eyes that day! Acts 8:1-2 (The Message)

Afraid for their lives the Christians in Jerusalem scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Unwittingly the Sanhedrin had done what Jesus had prophesied to his followers before he departed to be in heaven (Acts 1:8). The spread of the Christian church was, in no little part, due to the death of Stephen and the subsequent persecution of the church.

When adversity strikes today do we think of it as a set-back or an opportunity. I rather think we see it as the former. Many in the church are bemoaning the changes in the West that are increasing the difficulties of Christian witness. Isn’t it time we started to grasp the opportunity to rediscover our roots, away from Christendom, and more on the radical edge of society. What do I mean? Instead of offering a safe place of religious worship on a Sunday aren’t we intended to be a scattered people creating pockets of resistence to institutional and societal corruption. Isn’t the peculiar quality of the Christian life that it doesn’t conform to the norm but constantly challenges us to be out there, with the poor, the oppressed, the dispossessed of every tribe, nation, religion, and society. It says to us, ‘Take up your cross and follow me, … those who lose their lives will keep them!’ Doesn’t the demand of the life of the disciple mean that we are not to hold to the frailties of this world but hold to the certainties of the next?

May we see the coming kingdom today as the opportunity at the end of Christendom and may we take our scattering as the will of God to be his witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Amen.