Read: 2 Samuel 20:14-21:22 Acts 1:1-26 Psalm 121:1-8 Proverbs 16:18
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Relate: There is an understanding of this I’ve heard so many times it makes my head spin. That understanding goes something like this: There are four geographic locations given here, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the world. Jerusalem represents your home, Judea your state/country, Samaria those nearby with cultural differences (or those in neighboring areas), and the world is… well, duh. Like Jesus commissioned the first disciples, we need to focus first on our home communities and from there spread out into our state/country cross cultural divides and ultimately, eventually saturate the earth with the gospel.
Wrong, Wrong! DEAD WRONG! I think this understanding has done more to prevent missions than any other understanding of any other verse in the Bible. Yesterday pastor Will talked about one of these mistakes with the first message of the Transformers series. He mentioned how we have placed a “first” before “in Jerusalem” that doesn’t belong there. If we were to focus only on “Jerusalem” until we’ve got that taken care of before branching out we will never branch out. No matter how great the move of God is in our lives and community there will always be tares growing along with the wheat. This side of heaven there will always be more we can do in our “Jerusalem”.
The second misunderstanding is that Jerusalem was “home” for the first disciples. It wasn’t. Most of the disciples (if not all) were Galilean country boys. They were born and raised in little towns like Capernaum, or Cana, or Nazareth. Jerusalem wasn’t home. What it was, was the strategic center through which “Judea”, “Samaria”, and “the world” could best be reached. It was a natural base of operations for a mission that was both local AND regional and cross-cultural and global all at the same time. For Two Rivers Assembly, if our Judea is Broome County of the Southern Tier of New York then Binghamton is our Jerusalem. Some might call Windsor, or Endwell, or Chenango Bridge home but if we are desiring to transform these communities with a simultaneous “and” rather than a sequential “then” it just makes sense to have Binghamton be our “Jerusalem”.
React: It is so easy for me to only focus on my home and my community. That is, after all, where I live. But God has called both my vision and my actions to go higher and farther. While not neglecting the here, I also have a daily mission “there” and beyond “there” to the corners of my world. How am I praying globally? How am I giving globally? Is there a specific part of the “ends of the earth” that God is calling me to go to? What about you?
There is a time to pray and there is a time to act. This week at TRA we met with Matt and Rhea who are part of the Live Dead Initiative. More about that can be seen here. Two Rivers has committed to supporting them on a monthly basis as they head to Cairo to plant a church that will be a “Jerusalem” that will be a launching pad to planting other churches through the Arab world. In addition we took a special offering and gave them over a thousand dollars. If a new, three month old church can do that, then I know there are others reading this throughout the States, Canada, UK and the world who can partner with the Rolosons and with us in this endeavor through prayer and giving. Please head here to pay forward the blessing God has been in your life.