The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you. Deuteronomy 4:27 (NIV)
But not all scattering is bad. Scattering is needed when it serves the purposes of God – to bring the Gospel, the Good News of Christ, to a lost and dying world.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: …5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, Ecclesiastes 3:1,5 (NIV)
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed…” Luke 8:5 (NIV)
When done at the right place and time, the scattered seed…
“…fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8 (NIV)
Think about the fact that each week we “gather” in worship to praise, to pray, to give thanks and to receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament, ONLY to be scattered when the worship ends to go out into the world to take the Seed of God’s Word, to be …
..a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
Even the evil of man can, in the hands of a merciful God, turn evil to good. The evil of Saul, the persecutor, turned out to be good as his evil efforts moved the people of God away from the city of Jerusalem, carrying with them the Word of life in Jesus Christ. Their being scattered takes the Word of Christ with them when they…
“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15 (NIV)
Thus, the words of Paul make sense here:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Would you call this “one of those times” when good is done from evil. We can’t call what Saul is doing anything except evil. The language is specific, and Paul’s intent is clear:
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:3 (NIV)
Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:1-3 (NIV)
All except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, and with them they carried their faith, which they shared as they went.
Father, we thank You for those faithful ones who, in the early days of the church, faced persecution, suffering and some, even death, for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus. We thank You for the example they have left for us to follow. Holy Spirit, give us the courage to confess the name of Christ, even if it means loss, suffering, and even death, that the world may know from our lips the One who is the resurrection and life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.