Acts 8:1… And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Shortly after the church was first established, God allowed a time of great persecution. As a result of this persecution, many of the Christians left Jerusalem and journeyed into the various regions of the Roman Empire. The Bible says that ‘they were all scattered abroad…except the apostles.’ Why were the apostles not scattered? Were they spared of the suffering?
The Bible teaches us that the apostles were often the ones who suffered the most severely. Church history tells us that all except John was eventually put to death for their faith and though John lived to be a very old man, he too suffered greatly for being a Christian. Why did the apostles remain in Jerusalem while the rest of the church was fleeing? Perhaps they did so because of bravery. Being full of the Holy Spirit, these men became extremely courageous. But perhaps there was another reason for what happened. Perhaps the Lord was wanting to mobilize the entire church and not just its leaders.
It’s not hard to imagine how easily it would have been for the early Christians to lean heavily upon the apostles. After all, these men had actually been chosen by Jesus and had sat under His teaching for over three years. “Who am I who just got saved last month to try to do something for God when we have the Apostles?”
It has been said that a Christian can go through five stages during their spiritual journey:
Stage 1 – Make the Conversion from Sinner to Saint
Stage 2 – Incorporate into Christian Community
Stage 3 – Become Comfortable in Our Lifestyle
Stage 4 – Grow Complacent in Our Spiritual Activity and Service
Stage 5 – Eventually Become Critical of What Others Are or Are Not Doing
Christ did not want His followers to become comfortable, complacent or critical. He wanted them to become a part of His plan for reaching the world with His good news. Therefore, in order to get them going, He needed to do something dramatic that would help mobilize every individual.
Recently I read that if one person could lead 1,000 people per day to Christ, it would take them over 16,000 years to singlehandedly reach the world. But if one person led one person to Christ each year, and that person would then led one person to Christ the following year, and so on and so on, it would take less than 33 years for the church to reach the world. If that is anywhere near correct, then it’s not hard to understand why the Lord allowed the church to be scattered through persecution. As the Christians were fleeing from Jerusalem, they were bringing with them their faith.