The Church needs those with more of a past than a future.
Acts 21:16 “Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.”
Okay so I confess (not good for the reputation!), though I have read the Bible through many times if someone had asked me ‘who is Mnason?’ I would have been thinking of some Old Testament obscure guy.
Yet Mnason is a really important man.
Not only did he open up his home for the whole team when they arrived in Jerusalem. But he was one of the early disciples.
Luke includes this detail perhaps because he was indebted to some of the early historical events that either a) gave him the information needed regarding the first 5 years of the Jerusalem church because Mnason had become a believer under the preaching of the apostles, perhaps even Peter’s famous Pentecost sermon or b) Mnason was one of the 120 disciples that were following Jesus pre-Pentecost (see Acts 1:15). It is definitely one of these two and I actually favour the latter.
What did Mnason have that Luke didn’t?
1. Stories of Jesus, first-hand perhaps, his stories. He was there.
2. The experience of devastation as the fledgling Church recovered from the betrayal and loss of Jesus.
3. The revival amongst the believers and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
4. The hard days of persecution and suffering as the Jerusalem church was scattered.
5. The stories of the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.
I recently came back from Myanmar and our church there are predominantly all aged under 30yrs. It makes for an exciting and vibrant church. Many of them became Christians as children and remained following Christ into the young adulthood. When they speak of the early years they may talk about the time when they were 11 years of age and the Church had been going only 1 year but they became a follower of Christ.
There are churches in the UK that pride themselves on their youthfulness and they are amazing places.
I am not writing to promote young people or old people. I know some old people can be grumpy, stubborn and a real pain to the life of a Pastor/leader. But so can some young people!
But the Church needs people with experience.
The Church needs people like Mnason:
1. They have walked with Jesus for years.
2. They have walked through failure.
3. They have been in the revivals.
4. They have suffered.
5. They have missionary hearts and experience.
No matter what their age, if you have some people in the Church who have any of the above 5 then embrace them, don’t side-line them, love on them, encourage them. Do all that you can to make sure they stay and have a place in the Church.
The Church needs the early disciples.
We need to look after those who have gone before us.
If Luke hadn’t met Mnason then maybe he would not have written with such amazing detail.
The growth of the Church is not only dependent on the future challenges it faces, but it is dependent on how it faces those challenges from its experiences of the past.
We need the Mnasons.