Called to be a House of…?

called to be a house of

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So, after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit…(Acts 13;1-5a)

I love this Acts 13 passage. It speaks to me about complementary callings we have as Jesus’ community of followers. First, allow me to place it in context. Ike has reminded us in his blogs about our calling to mission. In Acts 1:8 Luke records Jesus’ call to the disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the “uttermost parts of the earth.” This is a call to being a global church, a diverse house.

We are called to leave the comfort of the familiar and follow the Holy Spirit outward from our Jerusalem outward to the entire world.

This is always difficult for us. It takes a persecution after the death of Stephen to scatter the disciples out of Jerusalem – and they then share the good news in Judea and Samaria. It takes the Holy Spirit giving Peter a crazy dream (Acts 10-11) to move Peter to share the good news with Gentiles in Caesarea. By the time we read Acts 13 we see that Antioch is now an obviously multicultural church (check out the different names of the teachers and prophets!) and is a frontier city in Syria for the spreading of the gospel into Asia. In Acts 16 we see the Holy Spirit closing doors on Paul in Asia and giving him a dream inviting him to come to Macedonia to share good news in Europe (and the edges of the then known world).

So first, we are called to be a global church that is led by and steps out in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Second, we are called to be a House of Prayer/House of Worship. Notice what the prophets and teachers are doing – they are worshipping, fasting, and praying. They lay hands on Saul and Barnabas in obedience to what the Spirit commands. Saul and Barnabas humbly, obediently (and I think confidently!) submit to the calling to go out and share the gospel in Asia. Why? Because the church is so attuned to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in worship, fasting and prayer that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind what the Spirit is asking of them. These leaders are not asking the Lord to ensure their comfort or success. They are clearly asking their God what He wants them to be doing. And He answers! And they submit and obey! I suspect the Spirit spoke in a still small voice, but they were such a worshipping and praying community that they received the message loud and clear!

I was once at a dedication service where the mayor of the town brought greetings. He was not a believer, but in his greeting, he noted that when he was a kid, they used to call the church a “house of worship” or a “house of prayer.” That has stuck with me ever since. What if we were not known for what we are against, but what we are for? What if we were known as a house of worship and prayer – a diverse, global group of followers of Jesus who seek and submit to His Holy Spirit? May we be a house of worship and prayer who experience an Asbury University type of revival and follow the Holy Spirit out of our comfort zone to a diverse people who Jesus desires to join His family!

Bill Taylor
EFCC Executive Director