December 8, 2018
READ: Acts 11:19-26
The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord (v.21).
During my master’s degree studies, I attended a church with people from many different nations and ethnic backgrounds, where we often worshipped by singing songs in various languages. One year for Christmas the choir director asked me to teach the other choir members a carol in my native Romanian language. Tears streamed down my face when we sang it on Christmas Eve. I was away from my home country, yet at home with brothers and sisters in Jesus who loved me enough to learn a song in my first language.
The people in the city of Antioch must have felt similarly moved when Christians from the island of Cyprus and the North African city of Cyrene willingly shared the good news of Jesus with them. These Jewish Christians were refugees from persecution, yet they persevered in sharing the faith, and “the power of the Lord was with them” (Acts 11:21).
Antioch was a centre for travel and commerce in the Roman Empire, so its population was ethnically diverse. The church contained Jews, Romans, Syrians, Greeks and other nationalities. This multinational church demonstrated to the leaders in Jerusalem that the gospel can transcend ethnic boundaries (vv.22-23). It was the beginning of the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise that “the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it” (Matthew 24:14).
When believers from diverse backgrounds fellowship together in unity, God receives the glory and those around us can recognise His love. May we find in Him the courage to intentionally love, serve and worship with brothers and sisters who are different from, and yet “one” with us! (Galatians 3:28).
—Estera Pirosca Escobar
365-day plan: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18
Read Romans 15:5-13 and consider Paul’s encouragement to “accept each other just as Christ has accepted you” (v.7).
Have you ever met with other believers in a multi-ethnic community? How did you feel? What can you do to share the good news with a person from a different ethnic background?