Right about this time every year in my family’s backyard, we have bamboo that grows like mad. In a matter of just a few days, a stalk can grow a couple feet. It’s so fast, I sometimes wonder if I stare at it if I’ll see the motion of the growth! Bamboo is also persistent and hardy, sometimes growing up through our piles of stacked firewood. It is so invasive, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of it. Because that would be a major undertaking (quite literally), and it is an effective natural fence-row, we keep it, even though it is a lot of work to maintain. Bamboo sends out roots under the grass, so we mostly stifle its growth by mowing our lawn each week. Still, I usually have to trim it a couple times each growing season to keep it at bay.
As we conclude our study in this 5-part series through Acts 13, in verse 49 we read another description of how the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region. The spread reminds me of the bamboo in our yard. Bamboo roots spread underground, sending up shoots as the roots grow. Likewise, the word of God spreads as each one of us grows and sends out roots to more people. Yes, Paul and Barnabas took the word of God to new places, but once people received it, those people participated in spreading the good news as well. That reminds us that we all have a role to play. We participate with God as his Kingdom is advancing over the forces of darkness.
But those forces of darkness are still fighting, as we see in verse 50. The Jews incite the leading people of the city, men and women, to a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, who are expelled from the region.
In verses 51-52, Paul and Barnabas shake off the dust (an ancient ritual saying, “We’re done with you”) in protest and head to Iconium, the next stop on their journey which we’ll hear about in our next series of posts. At the end of chapter 13, the author gives a concluding description of the disciples. They are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit, more evidence that word of God was taking root, spreading and changes lives.
The Holy Spirit is still at work empowering us to spread the word of God. The Kingdom of God is still at work waging war against the forces of darkness. And each of us has the joyous privilege to participate in that.
God invites us to participate in spreading the word, his heart and his purposes, even while we are at home on quarantine. What are some ways you can do that? How about inviting your neighbors and friends to join your church online? How about sharing a daily prayer or encouraging Bible verse with them? Or if you aren’t sure how they might receive them, how about asking them if they have any needs you could supply, or if they have any prayer requests.
How about asking God, “Where can I be sharing your heart, your purposes more during this time?” Maybe this is a time where you can also sit with your Bible, sit in prayer, maybe even spend time fasting from something (food, social media, TV) for the purpose of learning more about God’s heart, purposes and his word, so that you can learn better how to align yourself with those things.
Check with nonprofits that need a hand, that need help. Meals on Wheels put out a call for volunteer drivers. Parents, as school finishes up, how can you involve your kids in serving.
Allow the Holy Spirit to flow through you in love to the people around you. Share that love with them in both word and deed. Share the truth, with love, about who God is as you interact in texts, Zoom calls, grocery stores, social media, in your yard, or in parks. What is in your heart will overflow in all those areas. During this time of quarantine, my prayer for myself and readers of this blog is for our hearts to be filled more and more with His Spirit.