Leaving No One Out
Anyone who takes the time to read the Book of Acts
knows that it tells the story of a movement that just
would not stop. From its inception the Church was
expansive. It kept including more and more people.
Jesus had said it would be this way. In the first
chapter of the Book of Acts, as he was preparing the
disciples for his departure, he said to them:
(Acts 1:8 NRSV) ". . . you will receive power when the
Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and
to the ends of the earth."
And so it was. Jerusalem became the epicenter of the
Gospel that shook its world. From Jerusalem to
Judea, to Samaria, to Asia Minor, to Cyprus, to
Crete, to Macedonia, to Italy, to Spain. The
territory invaded by the Gospel wasn't just
geographical. It was also cultural. It spread from
Jews to Gentiles, from men to women, from rich to
poor, from slaves to slave owners, from prisoners to
prison guards, from religious to non-religious
It's just what you would expect if Jesus had really
been raised from the dead. The church expanded
because it was initiated by the most expansive event
in the history of the world: the resurrection of
Jesus form the dead. The stone that was rolled away
from his tomb was but the first of countless barriers
that the Gospel would overcome.
As the church was expansive, so was its message. The
Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been focused on
narrowing down the scope of God's love, grace, and
presence to a select group of people in our world.
Just the opposite: the Gospel has always been about
expanding the reach of God's grace and including
increasing numbers and kinds of people in the family
Today's Scripture is one of many examples of the
expansive message of the church. Paul saw this
speech as an opportunity to expand the reach of the
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