Compassion isn’t everything
Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.
A person can be slandered, beaten and lose everything just escaping with their life. They can be displaced and have to flee with nothing except the belongings they can carry. They may have to travel far and wide to places they had never heard of, even to cross dangerous seas to places like Cyprus. They may have to do all this and still the greatest change in their life is the need to change their heart.
On the day Stephen was martyred the prejudiced Church were displaced.
These people would still only reach out to the Jews. They still despised the Gentiles but the Spirit had already begun His work to change this. My point is that compassion for those who suffer must not overlook the need for a change of their heart especially towards Jesus and His work.
I remember being shocked from learning that a persecuted Christian leader who was taken from his Church and held in prison, tortured terribly for his faith, that on his release and safely being looked after in another country was then divorced by his wife for previous abuse of her prior to his capture. His suffering shadowed the tyranny of his heart.
In recent times we have all been amazed by the mass exodus of those who have suffered. It is highly controversial for some in the many countries that have welcomed the migrants. What these people have suffered is terrible. Many lose their lives trying to find freedom. Yesterday I watched a news clip which saw one family broken up into several countries with others still trapped in Aleppo, Syria. Any human being cannot fail to be moved with compassion thankful that this is not them but that it could be. In our compassion and our moves to help them let us not forget the amazing opportunity we have and what the Spirit wants to do in this situation.
Remember Jesus died for these people. They need our help and importantly they need us to introduce them to Jesus the Saviour.
Don’t let suffering blind us to the need of seeing a change in their heart. Heart change is needed for everyone. Those outside the Church and those within.