Have you ever done something that felt like it backfired? Maybe you made the extra effort to visit a neighbor only to find yourself at the brunt of her bad day. Or you lent money to a stranger only to have him thanklessly ask if that’s all you’ve got. Paul and Barnabus find themselves in what could be seen as a similar situation while sharing the gospel in Antioch.
Their following multiplied as Gentiles were captured by the offer of freedom and forgiveness. And as the crowds grew, so too did the jealousy of the Jews. We are little different than those Jews. When threatened to be knocked off our comfortable positions of privilege and prestige, fear and jealousy often follow. In an ironic twist, Paul and Barnabus, who came in order that others might know a life of freedom and grace, were persecuted and expelled from the region. Although it may look on the outside that their mission backfired, they “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). Why? Because “the word of the Lord spread through the whole region” (Acts 13:49). When our mission is bigger than our comfort zone, we are automatically empowered to work outside of it. Let Jesus push the boundaries of our comforts in order that His kingdom could advance in our homes, neighborhoods, communities and world.
Where have we allowed our comfort zones to stifle the stretch of the Gospel?