I repeatedly remind you that, ‘God owns the room’. I always loved it on the US Presidential drama The West Wing when President Bartlet would say, “Give me the room!” and everyone would scurry out. You can do that, you know. You can say to God, “This is your room,” and it is. And, you get to stay!
I come close to God’s room when I read the bible attentively. I really believe God spoke to me through one of the readings set for our midweek communion service this week [Acts 11:19-26]. For me it was an affirmation and confirmation. It sounded so like the journey we have been on.
In the story, Christians had been scattered all over the place due to upheaval, even as far as Palmyra and north-west Kenya! As they went, they invariably shared what they were doing and why. It was because of the Lord Jesus they were doing what they were doing, and people followed them and joined up.
One of these scattered groups went 760kms to Antioch, in what is today south-east Turkey. It was founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Antiochus. There the early Jewish Christians crossed ethnic and perhaps even gentile barriers. And a great many people believed in Jesus as Lord. News of this trickled back to Jerusalem and the foundation church there sent Barnabas to Antioch.
Why Barnabas? He was an encourager, joiner, one who linked up people and events to produce better outcomes. Today we’d call him a facilitator. He could encourage and join up and innovate, but his gift-set did not include teaching. Despite this, his enthusiasm and encouragement alone saw many come to the Lord Jesus.
But then Barnabas’ master-stroke: he left the new Christians at Antioch and travelled the 245kms to Tarsus. Who lived in Tarsus? The gifted teacher Paul. Barnabas brought Paul back to Antioch where he stayed for at least a year, teaching the faith to whoever would listen.
We can exhort all we like but it is great teaching and learning and knowing that establishes us and enables us to help others establish others. We all teach in some way or other but gifted or natural teachers are a special blessing.
That is what James and I went looking for over two years ago and started talking to Kieran. Old Barnabas [Pottsy] went to Melbourne to find a teacher, and thankfully, in God’s providence here he is.
I pray that, as Kieran and Ruth settle, we will be able to more effectively teach God’s truth gently but usefully, to bring life and strengthen faith and understanding. In other words to establish the believers so they can establish other newer believers, especially amongst the young.
Here it is in the bible, practical steps. . . and here it is unfolding at St Philips. I found that affirming and encouraging. I pray you do too.