In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells His disciples they will become His witnesses in “Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I recently visited the Holy Land and stood on
the shore of the Mediterranean Sea at a place called Caesarea Maritima. As I looked out over the waves coming in, the sea looked endless. For the Israelites the sea represented the borders of the land God had given them. Out there were people who were not like them. People who used boats to move around, people who spoke a different language, brought a different culture and lived by different values. When Jesus spoke about the “ends of the earth,” the disciples would not have thought to go beyond the border of the “Great Sea.”
Yet God called, of all people, a man named Paul, who formerly persecuted people who followed Christ, to go beyond the border to preach the gospel of Jesus in places and to people who had never heard about God or Jesus. Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea Maritima for two years before finally getting on a boat and sailing to Rome. He probably could have been released; he probably could have avoided the journey which would leave him shipwrecked and eventually a prisoner in Rome.
How easy it would have been for Paul to forget about those people who were not like him, those people who lived beyond the borders of the Promised Land. But Paul’s passion for reaching the lost was so great he was willing to experience all kinds of persecution and even give his life so that others might know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
What about us? Are we willing to go beyond our present borders? Borders where we feel comfortable, borders where we feel safe, borders where everyone looks like us, acts like us and has similar interests? I’m thankful that the Apostle Paul was willing to sail to the ends of the earth. I’m thankful for Sunday School teachers and youth volunteers who were willing to invest their time in a crazy, sometimes rambunctious kid like me. And I am thankful for the people at Wightman UMC who are willing to go beyond their current borders to reach out in Prosperity, in Newberry County, in South Carolina, in Orlando, Florida, in El Salvador and to the ends of the earth. We are still His witnesses and the world needs to hear our testimony!