While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)
Acts 13 is a turning point in the Book of Acts, as the focus shifts from Peter in Jerusalem to Paul’s missionary journeys, as he and his team are sent from the church in Antioch. Paul’s first missionary journey would take him first to the island of Cyprus.
We have heard, and will continue to to hear, much about the mission of the church as we continue our study in Acts. Right out of the gate, in chapter 1, the narrative begins with a reiteration of the Great Commision: Jesus gives a command to his followers that they will be his witnesses not only in Jerusalem but unto the ends of the earth. Having seen in Acts 10 that no one, regardless of ethnicity is off limits, we are ready to see a truly global witness through the church.
This account is not merely about what missionaries do, however. If that were the only application, it would be easy for us to conclude, “Since I don’t feel called to be a missionary, what does this have to do with me?” Sure, we give our monthly contributions and we pray here or there for missionaries; perhaps some have gone on and would like to go on mission trips. But for many of us, the idea of leaving behind the comfort and stability of our current situations to travel to uncharted territory to preach the gospel is just too dramatic a change.
In response to this attitude, we should consider at least two things: 1) Do not rule out the possibility of giving your life to missions. As we’ll see in our text, the Holy Spirit is the one who calls and sends, and we ought never quench the leading of the Holy Spirit, and 2) Do not rule out the role of the church in the greater missions task. That is, what we do as a church here and now has impact on global missions!
Take time to read Acts 13:1-12 before church this Sunday and pay careful attention to what the church is doing and what the church is willing to give up in order that the gospel may be preached to others around the world. And then ask yourself, am I doing those things? Am I willing to give up those things?
We must all ask of our own church: Are we a church through which the Holy Spirit would generously send some to go and fulfill the Great Commission?