The issue of migration and Christian missionary work is discussed in Sweden today. — Should we open our borders for the great flood of migrants/refugees from countries were there is war and persecution, regardless if some “persecutors” are hiding in the crowd ?
– Or should we as Christians see them as an opportunity to share our testimony about Christ, rather than as a potential threat for our society?
For this reason I wrote the following text,first in swedish, with a long quotation from Acts 22. Maybe it is relevant for an english blogosphere as well..
The issue of migration and missionary work may certainly stir up some furious reactions.
How “stir up furious reactions”? There is at least one telling example of this in Acts, in the 22nd chapter, where Paul was given the opportunity to speak to the people in Jerusalem:
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
“.. they gave him audience unto this word ” … what happened ?
– He could testify about his dramatic conversion. OK. Was there any response? No.
– He could testify, with clear allusions to the Davidic experience, that Jesus was the Messiah, and even call him “the righteous one”. Were there any reactions? No.
– He could testify about the miracle, that he regained his sight. Were there any response? No.
But when he spoke of his mission, to go “far hence” then their patience ran out .
Is this why people’s patience “is running out” also today? When they/we hear about the good news – the “great joy” – Matthew 2:10.
The great blessing – Eph. 1:3.
That it is migrating – moving away.
Far away from us.
Beyond foreign borders ..