Saturday, April 21, 2012

Would you go to this church?

The church in Antioch was truly a diverse, multi-cultural church, led by the Holy Spirit. What was unique about them?

·  They had diverse gifts/offices: prophets and teachers (see Acts 13:1)
-Prophets proclaimed the word
      -Teachers skillfully taught the word of God
  • They had diverse leaders (also Acts 13:1)
    -Barnabas: Wealthy, Jewish follower of Jesus who generously gave his time, his resources to encourage the early church. He was called the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36)

    -Simeon, also called Niger. Niger is Latin for “black,” indicating he likely came from Africa.

    -Lucius of Cyrene. Cyrene was the capital city of Cyrene [sometimes called Cyrenaica], a Roman province in Libya, on the north coast of Africa; see Acts 2:10

    -Manaen, a life long friend of Herod the Tetrach. Herod the tetrarch is Herod Antipas, who is mentioned frequently in the Gospels and who reigned in Galilee during Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 14:1; Luke 3:1; 23:8; Acts 4:27) from 4 b.c. to AD 39. He was the son of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1), and his nephew Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great, reigned as king in Judea, AD 41-44 (Acts 12:1-23).
Lifelong friend translated Greek syntrophos, means that Manaen was a close friend of Herod Antipas and had been brought up with him from childhood. So Manaen, one of the prophets and teachers of the church was closely associated with a family that tried to kill Jesus. God has a sense of humor!

-Saul: A former Jewish Pharisee who once persecuted those who openly confessed Jesus as the Christ; but was now a committed follower of Jesus (See Acts 9).

But even though they were so racially and ethnically diverse, they were unified around the same things:
·        Worship
·        Fasting and Praying
·        Listening to the Holy Spirit
·        Seeking to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit
·        A shared concern for those who were lost and without Christ
·        A commitment to sending people into God’s work

A diverse church works best when the Holy Spirit moves through the people in such a way that race, former way of life, culture are all surrendered in repentance to Jesus Christ. 

It was not their diversity that was highlighted, but their relationship to each other and to the Lord. Another way to say this, what mattered most was their vertical relationship to Christ shaping and redefining their horizontal relationships.

How are we doing as the people of God at First Pres. Evanston? What do people see when gather in our fellowship?