An Unusual Open Door: Acts 11:27-30
“27) Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28) One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. 29) And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. 30) And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.” Acts‬ ‭11‬:‭27‬-‭30‬
God has a plan for everything. The church in Antioch cut through social norms to form a congregation comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. That was not the case back in Jerusalem. It was comprised of Orthodox Jews who had become believers, but they were still zealous for the Law. (Acts 21:19-21) They despised Paul and the gospel of grace and the doctrine of justification by faith.
So what does that have to do with this text in Acts 11:27-30? God sent a great famine to give the Gentile church an opportunity to love and serve their Jewish counterparts. The church at Antioch took a love offering to help the suffering Jewish believers down in Jerusalem.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-45 that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This was an opportunity for the church in Antioch to exercise this principle. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus also taught that “where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Love put in action becomes a bonding glue.
Though this may seem like an insignificant text, God was at work pulling down walls and building bridges in the early church. Things were about to get very bad for all Jewish people in Jerusalem when the city was invaded and the temple pulled down. Undoubtedly, the Gentile believers were about to become the hiding place and refuge for many Jews fleeing for their lives. God was pulling down the walls of discrimination and prejudice.
God gives all of us ample opportunity to meet the needs of the poor and unfortunate. Could it be that God has His hand in the current immigration crisis in the United States? He is literally dropping the world at the door steps of the western church. May we not respond with blind eyes and closed hearts no matter our political persuasion. I fully suspect that our gold, silver, big homes and extravagant toys will be a witness against us in the day of judgement. (James 5:1-6)
I just returned from Guatemala. What an amazing trip and wonderful people. Now my eyes are open to the fact that hundreds of Guatemalans are living among us. God has allowed many thousands from Central and South America to come here in search of hope. It is our job to love them and point them to Jesus and the Gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global