In today’s reading, we have Saul (soon to be referred to as “Paul”) and Barnabas being sent out on their first missionary journey to the Gentiles. It represents the clear leading of the Holy Spirit that one of the things the Church is called to do is take the Gospel out of local congregations to those who have not yet heard it.
This outward drive should come as no surprise to followers of Jesus. Our Lord—the one whose life we seek to emulate—is the one who left the comfort and privilege of heaven to proclaim God’s love to those alienated and cut off from Him.
Can those who commit themselves to being transformed into the image of God in Christ do any less? The little band of Christians found at the beginning of today’s reading, so focused on God through fasting and worship, concludes the answer is no. They too must reach out to the world around them.
It is the principle here as much as the specific action that is instructive. Faithfully following Jesus requires us to reach out in love to those who do not yet know him.
It puzzles me that so few Christians make this a priority in their lives. How is it that we who see ourselves as deeply committed to Jesus Christ are not actively and intentionally engaged in evangelism?
When was the last time you shared your faith with someone outside a church? With a neighbor? A co worker? A friend? How often, if at all, does that happen?
If our answer to simple questions like these leads to the inescapable conclusion that we are not regularly and routinely commending Jesus to people in the world around us…well, it seems to me that we who take Scripture seriously would do well to ask ourselves why that is…and what we are going to do about it.