“I forget that everything good requires cultivation. Cultivation is participation.”
Christie Purifoy from Roots & Sky
Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. ~Acts 8:1&2 NLT
Saul was present at Stephen’s death. Callously watching on, when he might have stepped in. The way I picture him in this moment, turns out to be worlds apart from the actual.
I see him larger than life, a Goliath of sorts, arms crossed over his beefy chest. His stance wide, stiff and unmoving in his Roman sandaled feet. Heat, anger, downright meanness radiates from his body. A monster breathing rage at all who believed.
According to Strong’s Concordance , the Greek translation is Saulos, pronounced sou’-los, meaning masculine.
I am resisting with all that is me, to take this side road that has taken a hold of me. I ask you for grace, no hate mail please, this is not a blanket judgement by any means. These words spew out as I picture Saul in this moment, I trace the meaning of his name, Saulos~masculinity. Sometimes, masculinity presents itself trussed up in anger and violence. In threats. And just as it is here, it is a sickening thing to behold.
In the heat of the moment and his hatred for the Jesus movement, the tales of death and life resurrected, this is exactly what we see in Saul.
“And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail.” Acts 8:3 The Message
Don’t loose heart. If you stick with me through this journey, we will see a transformation like you have never seen before.
Now shelve that thought for a bit, and we will move on.
Fear ripples through the community, the believers scatter throughout different regions. All, with the exception of the apostles, who stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Seeds were sown by the apostles, and what we see grow through their scattering is beautiful.
Through, persecution, fear, and hardship, beauty rises, The Gospel is proclaimed. The everyday, ordinary person, becomes the extraordinary missionary!
“Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus ALL became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus. Going down to a Samaritan city, Philip proclaimed the Message of the Messiah. When the people heard what he had to say and saw the miracles, the clear signs of God’s action, they hung on his every word. Many who could neither stand nor walk were healed that day. The evil spirits protested loudly as they were sent on their way. And what joy in the city!” ~Acts 8:4-8 The Message (emphasis mine)
The Message of the Messiah spread through scattering and persecution. And with it, joy.
Do I, do we, carry The Message, the joy through our own scatterings and persecutions? Our own hardships? Our neighbors and friends? Or, anyone who will listen? Am I selfish with the Gift I have been given? Worse yet, do I cover it up?
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I love this book, the concept, the stories, and the cover. The fact that I was invited to be tucked among the pages is an honor.
“If you only have one hour in the day to write, don’t spend it frustrated. Spend it writing.” ~@lisajobaker, #FMFbook
Gifts of Grace