The post was written by Larry Doornbos, Home Missions Church Planting Team Leader.
The gospel of Luke has always drawn my attention. Perhaps it stems from the radical edge of the gospel from Jesus' proclamation in Luke 4 of the "year of the Lord's favor" to his positive treatment of women to his concern for the poor. Yesterday I decided to start again on Luke's gospel taking time to read and study it closely. In the first few chapters there is the wonderful unfolding of the story — rich with hope and wonder. But I also noticed something else that I want to keep my eye on as I continue, namely, the story is never kept quiet, it is always shared with others. The angel appearing to Zechariah is told to the crowd outside. The birth of John the Baptist leads to the telling of the story in the hill country of Judea. The birth of Christ is proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds and the shepherds to people they come into contact with. In these opening acts of the story, the story is contagious, people have to tell others what they have seen and heard.
The opening of Luke is a stealth call to share the story. A stealth call that becomes a clear call in Acts 1. "So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6–8 ESV)
All of this reminds me of something far back in history, back to one of the early acts in God's story. From the beginning of God's story there is the call to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. This command is given first to Adam and Eve and then to Noah. Noah and his descendants are doing a pretty good job of this as we read in Genesis 10, but in Genesis 11 they stop spreading and decide to build a tower (ziggurat) and take control of their own destiny, making God their servant. Rather than allowing them to stop their spread through the earth God comes and confuses their language and compels them to follow his command.
Here's my connection: in Acts 1.8 the call is to be witnesses. While this is Christ's command, the church seems slow in doing it — unlike the eager tellers in Luke's gospel. They keep themselves centered around Jerusalem. It takes the death of Stephen and the outbreak of persecution to get them to move into the world. (Acts 8.1 "And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.") Is it possible that there is a dual connection here? The first connection is that fill the earth is now includes the command to make disciples of all nations. The second connection is that when we refuse to get out and bring the gospel that God finds ways to compel us to do so.
So here is a question: Are we telling the story or do you see God finding ways to compel us to tell the story?