From Acts 13 on, Paul started his missionary journey. The first commission of the early church was sending Paul and Barnabas out to do God’s work. God provided the environment so that the disciples were spread beyond Jerusalem. Many Christians were persecuted or even martyred, yet it is God’s principle that His kingdom flourished with every persecution; where there are persecutions, there are miracles.
Brothers and sisters, we know that when we endeavor to spread the Gospel, we may be oppressed or humiliated, but God will withstand all the hardship with us, and He will dry our tears. We are the apple of His eye, so He will not disregard all the harm done to us. Woe to us if we do not spread the Gospel, because even though we won’t be persecuted in this world, we will have to face the consequential calamities on our own.
In Paphos, Paul harshly denounced Elymas, the sorcerer who oppressed the Apostles. Paul blinded Elymas, so he was not able to see the light of the sun for a time. Later, Paul preached in Pisidian Antioch, telling people that God had chosen Abraham and that their ancestors once stayed in Egypt. Paul also told them about Saul, David, and Jesus Christ. Paul’s preach was full of power from the Holy Spirit. Paul was a man with strong personality; he gave every effort to persecute Christians before he was saved. He even went from house to house to drag off people and put them in prison. After Paul was saved, he remained enthusiastic, yet for a different end. He became enthusiastic for the Gospel of Jesus Christ; he wouldn’t compromise the Truth, and he was, at all times, ready to give up his life for the Gospel.
Peter, Stephen, Paul, and Barnabas all had different personalities and gifts, because God gives everyone unique characteristics. After we convert to Christianity, what God will change is our “lives”, not our “personalities.” God uses every different character to complete His work. Therefore, I do not need to be like you, and vice versa. What we all need is to be changed by God so that we can learn to be Christ-like.
It is recorded that Paul and Barnabas mustered their courage to speak the words of God. Great things take great deal of courage. The courage of the people in this world are used to run business and make money; the courage of Christians are used to win souls for Jesus. We are afraid of being laughed at or of being humiliated if we talk to people about Jesus, yet we seldom think about what a shame it must have been for Jesus, the son of God, to be crucified nakedly in public. We are always seeking fairness, but where is the fairness in Jesus Christ’s, the sinless son of God, crucifying for us? Hence, do not be afraid of humiliation, and do not talk about fairness anymore. If Jesus didn’t come to live among us, if he wouldn’t be humiliated, and if He wouldn’t allow any unfairness, we wouldn’t have been saved! He is the son of God, and He is in the form of God, yet He did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage, rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Jesus also told us that the greatest among us will be the servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave. So, let us humble ourselves to serve God and others. Boosting our prestige is worthless. The eternal worth lies in the praise of God.
Message by Elder Yeh / Summary and response by Jim Lin