Acts chapter 11, verses 19 through 21. “Say 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.”
These verses describe the planting of the church at Antioch, one of the most influential churches in the history of Christianity. Not just the first century even. The church of Antioch, a couple chapters later would be the church that sends Paul and Barnabas out on their first missionary journey, and leads to the planting of churches all over the Roman Empire, and first, second, third missionary journey, it all started with the church at Antioch, so what’s fascinating about these verses, that are talking about the planting of this church is we don’t know any of the people’s names who actually planted this church.
God uses unknown, everyday believers to carry out his work.
So it just says, “There were some of them,” in verse 20, “Men of Cyprus and Cyrene who came to Antioch, started speaking to the Greeks, preaching the gospel, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” It’s an awesome thought that this strategic church in the history of Christianity was planted by a bunch of guys who we don’t even know their names. They’re just called “them” in the Bible, and they had a massive impact on the spread of the Gospel in the known world at that time, and all the way to our time today, and so I read these verses, and I just think, “This is exactly it. This is how God has designed the Gospel to spread in the world. God has designed the Gospel to spread through ordinary people,” and I hope this encourages every single one of us.
I think we have this tendency to think, “Ah, I can’t be used by God because I’m not this person or that person. I don’t have this gift or that gift,” but from the very beginning of the Bible, when it comes to the expansion of the church, this is the story of how the Gospel is spreading in the very beginning, and it’s happening through a bunch of people that are just called “them” in the Bible, and you are them. I am them. We are all ordinary people, but God has chosen to use ordinary people for the spread of the greatest news in the world, so I just want to encourage you, do not underestimate what God has designed for your life in the spread of the Gospel and the advancement of His kingdom.
Don’t underestimate the role God has given you to play in ways that not just affect people in your life today, but will affect people far beyond your life when you are walking in obedience to Him, so I want to pray along those lines.
Oh, God, I pray for my life. I pray for every single person that’s listening to this right now that we would just be encouraged in our hearts when we think about not our gifts or our skills or what we bring to the table, but by who You are, what You have done in our lives, and amidst our ordinariness, Your extraordinary power and Your purpose to use ordinary people for the spread of Your glory in the world. So help us re-pray. Help every one of us to play whatever part You want us to play in the spread of the Gospel today, in the planting of churches, in the sending out of missionaries, Lord, we want to be faithful to play our part just like these men and women were playing their part in Acts chapter 11, and we pray that You would use our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways far beyond what we could ask or imagine for the sake of Your glory, for the spread of Your Gospel, we pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.