Monday, 08 March 2021 06:00

Week 2: Shattered and Scattered

Written by Jesse Neustadter

Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion will stay in motion while an object at rest will stay at rest. The only way for the object to change course is for it to be acted upon by force.

If something is on the move, only the force of another object or the force of friction can slow it down. If something is stationary, an outside force must set it in motion. When Jesus gave the great commission to his first disciples, telling them to “go and make disciples,” he began a spiritual movement. Jesus set the church into motion, a movement that would eventually span the globe, reaching into every corner of the planet.

The movement that Jesus began looks different than what we might expect. We might expect that the sovereign God of the universe would carry out His spiritual movement with a predictable kind of success. We might expect the movement of God to be full of triumph, marked by tangible achievements. But this is not the always the case. The movement that Jesus has set into motion faces the friction of a sinful world that can be hostile towards the gospel.

But while hostility may hinder the gospel in one area, the history of the church has shown that stopping movement in one place only causes it to go somewhere else. In Acts 8, immediately following Stephen’s martyrdom, Luke records that “there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (v. 1). Just a few verses later, we find that “those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (v. 4). While gospel movement can be stopped by persecution, that same persecution can also be the force that propels movement.

In Acts 8, what persecution shattered, it also scattered. We recently bought a set of drinking glasses at our house. Somehow, we go through drinking glasses like the end of time is near. We just cannot keep them from breaking. When a drinking glass falls to the floor, not only does it break, it shatters into a hundred pieces. I am always amazed that one or two pieces somehow find their way to the farthest corner of the room. While that glass has been shattered, broken into pieces by the blunt force of the hard floor, it has also been dispersed to new places.

Even though persecution can lead to brokenness, and brokenness can be difficult and uncomfortable, I am convinced that God works through our brokenness. He uses it to keep us from complacency and to move us forward. He breaks us so He can scatter us to new places.

Author Bill Hull describes the movement of the gospel when he writes, “In real life, God doesn’t have a production plan; he uses us to reach others in a wide variety of ways. His glorious method is unpredictable, not smooth or symmetrical. It bursts forward with spasms of energy. It zigzags across the planet in disorganized patterns, propelled by the passion of faithful disciples.” The first disciples and the early church understood that the trials they faced propelled the gospel forward. Today, even now, the gospel is still on the move. Is it on the move through you?

As a follower of Jesus, you are called to make disciples. Making disciples requires movement and movement often follows brokenness. Let me encourage you to see your brokenness and recognize that God has shattered you in order to scatter you, to move you into the lives of others. Today, “go and make disciples.” God’s grace will empower you for the task.

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