In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands his disciples “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations”. But have you ever wondered why we must read eight chapters into the book of Acts before finding anyone who leaves Jerusalem for the sake of the Gospel?
Like many of us today, it seems the early disciples found it difficult to leave the environment with which they were most familiar. From Abram’s wanderings in a land far from his home, to Joseph in the land of Egypt; from Esther in Persia to Christ himself, it’s hard to find anyone of significant influence in the Bible who was not first called to leave someone or someplace behind in order to become all that God intended them to be, or to do all that God intended them to do.
If Jesus commands us to go, why do we stay?
Did you know that the first church to take up a collection for those in need beyond its walls was the church in Antioch (Acts 11:28-30)?
It was not the homogenous church in Jerusalem, but the multi-ethnic church at Antioch that first mobilized its own and sent missionaries to the world in response to the Great Commission (Acts 13:2-3). In the church at Antioch, there were people of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds; converted Jews and Gentiles alike (Acts 11:19-20). Presumably, many of them would have been drawn to the busting city from all over the known world. Having then received Christ, these diverse believers would have soon considered their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, extended family members and friends, alike, still living in the lands from which they came. They would have desired for their loved ones to receive the gift of eternal life.
So why did the church in Antioch care about the world? Because the church at Antioch reflected the world! They where a multi-ethnic people who considered it essential to send their money, their peopl, and the message of hope abroad to family, friends, and countrymen in obedience to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).