Acts 8:1 (AMP) Saul wholeheartedly approved of Stephen’s death. And on that day a great and relentless persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem; and the believers were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles.
We read in Acts 6 and 7 about the life (in Christ) and the death of Stephen. Saul is still a young man and is witnessing this. What a moment in the history of the early church. A man (innocent) said to have the face of an angel (Acts 6:15) is stoned to death for telling the group before him that they were stiff necked and stubborn just like their fathers before them for resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Saul (later Paul) witnesses all of this and later becomes a persecutor of Christians. We see in the above verse that the believers were scattered.
Where did they scatter to? Did they go in hiding? A relentless persecution had broken out against the church in Jerusalem. If we look to the past, what did they do in the past? Moses ran (Exodus 2:11-15). David ran (1 Samuel 21-24). Elijah ran (1 Kings 19). Should they run and hide?
Acts 8:4 (AMP) Now those [believers] who had been scattered went from place to place preaching the word [the good news of salvation through Christ].
Caves were no longer an option for those in Christ. When I was fired nearly three years ago, and told that I was a criminal for the unintentional mistake, my first reaction was to hide. I could have shrunk away from all things ministry. Instead, it propelled me into a deeper relationship with my Father and a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. We have to remember, although the angel led Elijah to the cave, it was God constantly calling him out of it.
Why did the persecution come? Why do hardships come? Before the Holy Spirit was released, Jesus gave a great commission, Matthew 28:18-20 (TLB), He told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” We have two choices, we can either hide (and use God as our crutch) or we can follow these instructions and GO!
We have not been hidden for later use. There is a great need for Christ in our world. It is in our comfort that we seek the cave. Depression is a real issue. If this is an issue with you and you cannot come out of the cave because of it, it may be time to seek help. It would not be choosing a plan B (other than God). You are not a failure for seeing a counselor, therapist and/or doctor. That was a dangerous and destructive theology…why is it okay to send doctors to the mission field, but not okay for you to see one?
In the last three years I have preached more in my local church, not to say I have not had to fight rejection. I have not had thoughts that I was not enough for people. However, I have stepped out and mentored anyone who has allowed me to. I am not ashamed of the Word and how it changed me.
Acts 1:8 (AMP) But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.
This is what they were missing and why they hid. We have the Holy Spirit. This is why we do not hide! He has not hidden us for later use. It is time for the Body of Christ to come out of hiding and proclaim the word (the good news of salvation through Christ)!