Those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews.
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
Please do read and see how the tireless works of the early Believers led to the formation of the Church. Stephen was the first Martyr. He laid down his life but did not deviate from his Belief in what Jesus shared with him. See how the truth antagonized those who were not ready to change…..but how sincerely the Disciples other than Judas hold onto this Faith of what Jesus shared with them.
It is a matter of perspective. If we think that this Life is everything and we get on with trying to hoard or gain positions, rewards, fame etc. to get ahead of each other in mindless competition with that as the AIM and Goal of our lives, we fall off the track. Money, position etc. are some of the inevitable perks of hard work that we come on in this journey of Life. But we also know from Jesus that this Life is a learning ground for an ongoing life to Eternity….
Why do we often fail to realise this and work so hard to Sin to COVET, plot, to maneuver to obtain and hoard when we know that there is nothing that we can hold onto, with lifeless hands… Indeed we are turned into dust after the Spirit of life breathed into it, by God – is taken back….!
If we say that we have to leave a fortune for our children by COVET, the bitter truth is that this will do them no good. Instead teaching them values of hard work and honesty ‘by teaching to FISH’ will enable them to stand on their own feet to work and catch their own FISH to feed themselves …. This will be fruitful and rewarding for one and all.
They can then share with families and community as well as STOP to help when there arises a Needy in their midst. This is the essence of what Christ teaches and we see that irrespective of our gender, religion or nationalities, this will greatly help the children to grow into better Humanity in the coming years.
This is the greatest truth for a Believer and a Non Believer. So how does then one go onto being a Non-believer? Most of us are born in the midst of families and communities and we do have some who are Believers thanks to the many efforts of the followers of Christ.
So even as the First Christians set up the first Churches where people could come together to HEAR the Word of God…we see since then that even as it has spread in 2000 years, there is a huge amount of work to be done to bring this Word to many around, considering the sheer size of the population today. That lack of Understanding brings the World to near extinction with a trigger now for Nuclear War.
While so many have not heard or know about Jesus, the horrifying truth is about the Christians who do not want to walk in the Path of Jesus everyday. So even as they do enter a Church and do know the Law brought on by the Ten Commandments …..they do not observe them in their daily lives…..
And we see then why Jesus cautions against this because it then alienates the gentiles further away….When a Christian speaks about Jesus and the Bible and then in his daily Actions he is indifferent, selfish and COVETS….what is the example he sets for his family or the community around….It is Hypocrisy. Can we blame the gentiles for not wanting to know the Jesus then we profess to follow?
Further when we continue on that path of Hypocrisy, unless someone then cares to make us aware to walk in the Ways of the Teachings and the importance of its adherence and application, there is the real danger of others being lured down that path…!! So when the Non-believers and Hypocrites together become greater in numbers it is because of the lack of effort of many Christians in their families and communities.
So even as we see the 20th century being now known as the Century of Fatima….we are being guided by God again as His Creations and Sins are on an increase on a massive scale.
If the early Christians persevered in the face of much prosecution leading to a better World today where some of us in some place have the equality and opportunity to VOICE our thoughts and feelings and lead better lives, it is very disturbing that in others – people are struck down for choosing to do so…
So we see below the first Martyr Stephen, having the Belief, conviction and courage of the Truth in what Jesus teaches, to be then stoned to death than stand to be counted with people who wanted to deny and defy Jesus….
We are called to ask ourselves today the same – What do we today to keep up and help grow this Faith in ourselves and in others…It will matter to the people today as well as 2000 years from now and beyond!! Some of those people will be our descendants. Just as the work of the early Christians have a direct impact on many including me, my efforts or lack of it will have an impact on some if not all.
We have to follow Him everyday to be found WORTHY of that Eternal Life He promises….
“..Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand…”