Focal passage: Acts 13:1-3, 44-52
Can you imagine a basketball team playing a championship game without unity of purpose and mission? Perhaps the star player is focused on getting his stats to look good or a support player is determined to make a three-pointer, cementing himself in everyone’s memory. Regardless of motivations, it’s not difficult to imagine that such a team would probably be ineffective. Without unity built around a common purpose, distraction and failures abound.
In Acts we find the church experiences a unity around a common mission and purpose that is noteworthy. The church at Antioch understood their mission was not to build the best social club in the region or to ensure that everyone was as comfortable as they could be. On the contrary, their mission, the Great Commission, was to spread the gospel and make disciples.
It should come as no surprise then that they did not hesitate when the Holy Spirit called on them to send Paul and Barnabas out to spread the gospel. They understood their mission and knew what it would take to advance. Are we committed to the advance of the kingdom, even when it means sending out our best and brightest to be missionaries and church planters? Or are we more committed to building our own particular brand of Christianity?
Notice that it is God who leads the church at Antioch to send out Paul and Barnabas and yet they face rejection. The passage shows us vividly that the work of evangelism and mission is not without difficulty and rejection. Yet we find the power to persevere knowing He is sovereign and He will save! In the very same passage, we see the joy that flows from sinners coming to Christ. The joy of harvest is the reward of remaining united in our mission through rejection. We should not fear sending out our best and brightest. Likewise, we shouldn’t fear or retreat when we face rejection. Rather we should trust in God’s purpose to establish His Kingdom and in His sovereignty to accomplish it.