I remember a cousin from way back; she wanted to study medicine and got admitted to study microbiology. She was unable to switch courses after the first year so she finished her first degree. She was exceptional and graduated top of her class and there were conversations around getting an M.Sc. and building a career there. But it burned in her heart that she was called to become a doctor so she went back to school to study medicine and went on to become a consultant. She was not tempted to stop midway because she found it successful. Rather, against all odds, and in spite of how much longer it would cost her in school, she forged ahead in pursuit of her dream.
There is a similar story in the book of Acts. Before the Upper Room experience, Jesus commissioned the disciples to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. (Acts. 1:8). The Upper Room experience was the fulfillment of God’s promise to give them power as promised so they could become witnesses.
The church started growing and more people were added to them (Acts 2-5). Peter, James and John settled into ministry in Jerusalem, and Phillip and Stephen were appointed as deacons to manage the administrative part of the job when the burden became too much for the disciples. Then trouble came, and James was beheaded; the church became afraid and started to disperse. Stephen, one of the deacons, was stoned to death for preaching the gospel and then as they relocated far and wide to stay safe, the gospel spread out of Jerusalem to places like Antioch where they were first called ‘Christians’. Such was the strength of their work.
When the news came to Jerusalem, the elders there were supportive and sent Barnabas to Antioch to encourage them. Barnabas later recruited Paul seeing how great the work was. (Acts 11).
My study of the journey from Jerusalem to Antioch taught me the following:
- We must be guided by the original purpose for our lives and not settle mid-way irrespective of how successful the mid-point is. It is so easy to manage success so much that one is no longer growing.
- Sometimes we are afraid to go ahead and do new things because the success of the present is comfortable. We need to follow the purpose where it leads, especially where it appears uncertain.
- The fact that things are going great doesn’t always mean you are where you should be. The church in Jerusalem was powerful but God also had Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth on his mind.
- God had a purpose to fulfill. I’ve learned that God is all about His purpose, more than my comfort or happiness. In that vein, God must have rejoiced at their persecutions because it gave room for the church to expand (Acts 8:1; 11:19).
- We must be innovative. Once we lose the ability to innovate in order to actualize purpose, we are on the way to being replaced.
- It’s either obedience or persecution. Where we do not go ahead, adversity may come to force us out of our lethargy. When we begin to focus on ourselves instead of purpose, persecution may arise, forcing obedience in us, as the persecution forced obedience in the disciples in Jerusalem.
- The fullness of God’s blessing doesn’t come mid-way. He blesses us as we go but we enjoy fullness when we obey exactly. Note how in Jerusalem, men were added, people were saved. But in Antioch, the Lord’s hand was with them (Acts 11:23). There is a fullness of God’s favor when we obey completely.
Maybe you know deep in your belly that there is a business waiting to be born or there is something that irks you very badly in your environment that you can address but you have somehow become content with being a fantastic home maker, or perhaps there are songs or books waiting to be written which you are incubating but you have settled for your 9-5 alone because it pays the bills. It could be that everyone is hailing you for being successful, and you truly are, but deep inside, you know there is MORE. I encourage you to look inwards at what really drives you and what your purpose is and refuse to stay in your comfort zone. Please don’t settle in Jerusalem.
It’s time to begin your journey from Jerusalem to Antioch. Take a little step today and please don’t wait for persecution to jolt you into the awareness of your Antioch. Going ahead to fulfill purpose 100% isn’t going to kill your present success. Jerusalem was a foundation for Antioch and the gospel spreading to the world. Same way, your present location is a necessary part of your journey but a Paul is awaiting the birth of your Antioch. A bigger move than Jerusalem is awaiting your full obedience. Don’t waste it.
Are you at ease in Zion? Comfortable with managing the success of your Jerusalem?
There is MORE!!!
God bless you.
Image credits: bourton.ac.uk, biblicalpatterns.wordpress,com, managementisjourney.com