Written by Daniel Hazard
Quinn G. Caldwell
"Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some [people]…who…spoke to the Greeks also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus." Excerpt from Acts 11:19-26
So here's what happened. The Apostle Stephen had been preaching in Jerusalem. As good Christian preaching sometimes will, his sermon angered his audience. They stoned him, and that understandably scared many of the other apostles out of town.
Not being timid people, they kept on preaching. And since they were Jews talking about the impact of the Jewish Jesus on the Jewish faith, they naturally talked about their faith only with other Jews. This was a sensible course of action—in theory. Problem was, it actually didn't work very well.
But then some of them started doing a new thing nobody had really thought of before: talking to the Greeks, the non-Jews. The story says that it worked so well that apostles came running from all over the Mediterranean to check it out.
There was nothing wrong with the apostles' first instinct; it just happened not to work very well, and a new thing was called for. Is there a place among the apostles you know, in your church, where a new thing is called for? Is there a way of doing things that made sense at the time, but just isn't working so well, but that you keep on doing that way anyway? And if so, what are you going to do about it?
God, give me the courage and vision to do a new thing for your sake when the old things stop working. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.