At the end of the book of Acts, the author Luke echoes the beginning of his story inviting us to look back to see how far we have come. When we gaze back, we are amazed at the birth and growth of the church.
In the beginning, it was few Galileans in Jerusalem gathered to pray. Now, Paul, a man of many cultures, preaches to Jews and Gentiles about Christ in Rome. He is also ready to tell Caesar, the most powerful man at that time, about the Lordship of Christ. In this snapshot of the beginning and the end of the story of Acts we see the main themes of Luke more lucidly.
Firstly, the power behind the birth of growth of the Church is the Holy Spirit. Growth is not in our power. It is Christ’s gift to us. We can only position ourselves to receive and channel it. That positioning is prayer.
Secondly, there are always growing pains. Suffering is part of the Christian life: Peter before Sanhedrin or Paul before tribunals. We are not to shun or seek suffering but for the sake of the gospel, endure.
Thirdly, part of the growing pain is the fear of change. Growth means change and people fear change. The gospel changes as it is preached to Paul. Some saw that change as compromise. Peter and Paul saw that change as the deepening of our understanding of God’s heart.
Fourthly, we are invited to continue to the work of the Holy Spirit in the church. Luke does not end the story with a showdown between Nero and Paul because there is no end to the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s work came to an end, but not the work and power of the Holy Spirit. We are continuing that story by continuing to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus.
1-What are some growths/transformations (in you or others) that surprised you when you took a step back to take in the vista?
2-What are some current growing pains (things you are called to sacrifice) in your following of Christ?