Could this be one of the greatest moments of opportunity the Church will see in our lifetime?
This week I was reading Acts 8:4-8, this is right after Stephen had been martyred and the church has been scattered throughout the region; two things jumped out at me. First, in verse 6 we read, “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip” (one of the church leaders). In the moment of crisis, the world watched and waited to see how the church would respond. The same is true in our day. As the world seems to be spinning out of control, the world is watching to see how God’s people will respond. Will we go running for the hills, or our keyboards, declaring worry, frustration, and lack of faith? Or will we seize the moment to make much of Jesus as Philip did?
Second, in verse 8, it tells us that the gospel brought much joy to the city! In this day and time, people all around us are looking for good news, and if anyone has good news to share, it’s the people of God. While Acts 8 gives us just a quick snapshot of what was happening, the implication seems to be more broadly that, in the midst of their crisis, the church went on being the church. In Acts chapter 2 verses 42-47, Luke lays out the general foundation of what the early church looked like and did. They studied the Word of God with fervor to learn how God was directing them (42). They fellowshipped and shared life together (42). They prayed knowing God heard them and expecting God to move in power (43). They gave generously so that the church could meet needs and better advance God’s kingdom (44-45). They were a people of thanksgiving and joy (46). And they clearly communicated the gospel with everyone, everywhere they could (47).
Hebrews 6:19 reminds each of us, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” We have no reason to despair, Jesus is our hope and God, through His Word, assures us our hope is secure. Because this is true, the church, even if it looks a little different for a little while, can go on being the church. And now, perhaps more than ever, our world is watching and waiting to see how we will respond. Will there be joy in Lynchburg and Rustburg because the members of Hyland Heights are faithful to be the church that God has always called us to be? My prayer, hope, and desire is that this is so. Let us not miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Let us continue to be the Church!
Dr. Josh Carter