Whether we like it or not, life is constantly changing. Experiencing the changes of a new job, a new home, a marriage, or some other circumstances that can be considered a life alteration, can be frightening and frustrating. As time and life progress, however, change continuously lurks in the shadows as a part of life. The question is, what will we do when it happens?
The first century church knew what drastic change felt like. Read Acts 8:1-4. Up to this point, the church really had not had any major form of persecution. Yet with Stephen’s death, a new era of harassment crept in from the shadows. This caused the church at Jerusalem to be scattered. The change came with full force (v.3), as Saul spared no time persecuting Christians with full zeal. Change sometimes comes in powerful ways whether we are ready or not (v.1-2).
Jesus also knew the struggles of change. One moment He was welcomed into Jerusalem with palm branches and praise (Luke 19:40), and in the next, Jesus met the cross as He was rejected by man (Luke 22:42). When times change what will we do? Complain (Philippians 2:14)? Or seek the best out of our current situations (Philippians 4:11-13)? Will we follow the example of Christ, trusting in God? Knowing the intensity of challenging times, we can know and prepare for the trials and testing of our faith (James 1:2-4), trusting in God (James 4:13-17), and sanctifying Jesus in our hearts (I Peter 3:15).
Even though the first century church was persecuted, there was a silver lining, or a positive reaction from a negative circumstance (v.4). They received persecution and still took the name of Jesus with them. The persecution spread the believers out even more, ultimately causing the church to spread in more areas, at a quicker pace. There are some things in life that we cannot control, but what we can control is how we react to the circumstances of life.
Remember, as Christians, the best days are always still to come. Our hope is not in this world but the one to come (Titus 2:13,14). What a wonderful change it will be, when we see the Lord Jesus and are transformed into His likeness (Philippians 3:20,21; I Thessalonians 4:16-18)!