Saturday, 8 August 2015

Daily Bible Reading: Acts 1v12-26

Lots of ink has been spilt not on the last verses of Acts 1, but debating whether the actions recorded there are right or wrong.  Should Matthias have been appointed or not?  Should they just have waited and appointed Paul?  I wonder if that's somewhat missing the point as the bible doesn't seem to raise this as an issue for debate.

Rather here in the appointment of a twelfth Apostle the church is preparing for it's mission.  Peter is convinced from scripture that Judas must be replaced, he has been judged but his place of service and witness must be filled.  Why?  Because the Apostles are foundational to the church in witnessing to Jesus - which is what they look for in a new apostle.  They must be able to give eyewitness to who Jesus was, to his ministry, to his resurrection and ascension.

Our faith is built on that witness.  They represent the new people of God just as the twelve heads of the tribes of Israel did, in taking the gospel to the Jews that symbolism mattered.  So they pray and propose and cast lots.  In both the prayer and the lots they are showing their utter dependence on God, they are inviting God to appoint the twelfth apostle.  They read and act on scripture, they are mission focused and they pray and use a divinely appointed means of seeking God's will.  This is the last time we see lots used, because post Pentecost God's people have the Spirit with and in us to guide us.  Acts 1 is not a primer or guidance 101 for us, but it does show us their utter dependence on God.

One of the things I love about this passage is that it is Matthias who is chosen, and that we then don't hear of him by name again.  That doesn't mean that he was the wrong choice, we actually don't hear of that many of the twelve again by name.  Rather Matthias fulfils his role as an appointed apostle quietly, without recognition in history, but faithfully.  We live in an age that craves significance, we live in a Christian culture that seems to be permeated by that too.  But the vast majority of the Apostles in Acts are referred to as the Twelve, they are unheralded.  But we are here as God's people because they were faithful to their task and God's knows of their faith and their labour for him.  I find that a huge encouragement when  I am tempted to want significance and recognition, but also an enormous challenge.  God calls me to the place he has for me, to faithful service and trust in him.  To witness for him where he has put me.  Not to seek after significance outside of or on top of that.

The foundations of the church are laid. Utter dependence on God shown in prayer, a way of reading the world and its events and people in light of scripture that will be vital, and the foundational witness of the apostles in place.  This is a church ready and waiting to take the gospel to the world, to fulfil Jesus call to Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea and the ends of the earth.  Those foundations remain, the scriptures still enable us to view the world rightly, and God waits for us to prayerfully, dependently go and witness to Jesus.

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