The Acts 1:8 Principle: Be Faithful Wherever You Are
by Patrick Roberts 11/26/2007 / Missions
Here are Christ's words in Acts 1:8
"you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Jesus describes an expanding circle of influence for His followers. If an expanding circle was an appropriate model for the early church, it must also be appropriate for us today.
Jerusalem was the early church's starting point. Judea was the larger, surrounding the Jewish province. This larger region was Jewish by heritage though it was Roman by government.
He said they would then go on from Judea to Samaria, which was the neighboring area, a province of Jewish half-breeds (Jewish and gentile). Samaria acted as a buffer-zone between the familiar homeland of the pure Jews and the greater, gentile rest of the world. The Jews utterly despised the Samaritans, but they still had a lot more in common culturally than they did with the Gentiles (whom they called dogs). Some would argue that these Jews hated the Samaritans even more than the regular gentiles, but let's assume for illustration's sake that these Jewish-background believers were at least a little more reasonable than their dogmatic, ethnocentric forefathers. In a pinch, at least they could relate to the Samaritans on some level.
For the average, sheltered Jew who grew up in Judea, any lands further than Samaria might as well have been "the remotest part of the earth."
So here is the Acts 1:8 Principle: Move further outward only after we have been faithful in whatever place we are right now. This means, if I am American, then I should learn how to listen to God right here in the good ol' U. S. of A.
Like most of God's principles for us, this one is based on our open communication with Christ. This means that we should not try to copy Biblical events or treat Acts like a holy playbook. We aren't looking for a carbon copy of the spiritual explosion of that time, which kicked off at Pentecost. We are not in Jerusalem. In any case, it would contradict God's fondness for originality if He showed up in the same old wind and fire. God shows up in all kinds of creative ways, sometimes in burning bushes, sometimes in thundering mountains, and at other times in talking donkeys. Our calling is to keep seeking out the Lord, with confidence that He listens and shows up for those that simply ask.
It continues to be God's will that we seek out every opportunity to follow and obey His Spirit. In Christ, who is God Among Us, we can embrace everyday, divine wisdom. We should embrace whatever open doors for the gospel God has already provided for us.
The simplicity of obedience hinted at in the Acts 1:8 Principle should be striking to missions-minded Christians who are convinced that God's "spiritual cutting edge" must lie as far away from their own homeland as possible.
Can it be that He requires spiritual productivity from us here, where we're already living? Many of us have long since excused ourselves from considering these things further because we are exhausted and disillusioned with the state of things on the home front. And many of us are convinced that the hearts of our neighbors are too callused or burnt out to care about God anymore. But these things don't matter ultimately. God's will is the final deciding Factor for spiritual issues. Whether or not we are successful spiritually depends on Him, regardless of our current circumstances.