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. More than just a local action a long time ago, this action shows us the clear leading of the Holy Spirit. We see that one of the things the Church is called to do is take the Gospel outside of the church we attend 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.
They conclude that faithfully following Jesus requires reaching out in love to those who do not yet know him. And that would seem to be as true for us as it was for them.
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 how that can possibly be...
…and what we are going to do about it.