A few years ago I became enamored of a television show called The 100. I love all things science fiction and this really captured my imagination. The premise was based on the earth’s apocalypse and the survival of humankind. After a devastating nuclear event rendered earth uninhabitable, a group of people fled to an orbiting space station. Three generations later, the space station’s life support system began to fail, and so a plan was devised to send one hundred delinquent juveniles back to earth to see if life can now be maintained. From this small number, civilization begins to regroup. They are eventually successful after seven seasons of twists and turns.
This premise is biblical in two ways. First, it supports “remnant theology,” which teaches us that God always preserves a remnant of humanity for the future. We see this from the Genesis flood narrative to the diaspora stories in the Old Testament. The New Testament picks up the theme when a band of twelve becomes a global movement. Second, it reminds us that God uses small seeds to reap great harvests. His faithfulness to us is evident all throughout the Bible.
This show came to mind this morning when I read the scripture assignment for today. Right away the number one hundred twenty jumped out at me. I love reading about the early formative days of the church, and today is no exception to the wonderment of it all. Think of it: at one point, we were only one hundred twenty strong as a church of Christ-followers. A quick Google search reports that the number today is 2.3 billion.
From tiny beginnings, great things grow!
Acts 1 (Common English Bible)
15 During this time, the family of believers was a company of about one hundred twenty persons. Peter stood among them and said, 16 “Brothers and sisters, the scripture that the Holy Spirit announced beforehand through David had to be fulfilled. This was the scripture concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 This happened even though he was one of us and received a share of this ministry.”
I appreciate the Common English Bible’s use of the word “family.” It is comforting to remember that at one time, those who loved Jesus and his message were a family. I doubt that the same thing would be said of us today. Our extreme denominationalism has fractured us into disparate entities. Competition, resistance to opposing view points, and our tendency to erect walls around our doctrinal beliefs have rendered us incapable of functioning as a whole unit of believers.
21 “Therefore, we must select one of those who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus lived among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when Jesus was taken from us. This person must become along with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 So they nominated two: Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
24 They prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s deepest thoughts and desires. Show us clearly which one you have chosen from among these two 25 to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” 26 When they cast lots, the lot fell on Matthias. He was added to the eleven apostles.
In selecting a new apostle, the eleven prayed for discernment and left the decision to God. They knew that he would examine the thoughts and desires of the candidates and would reveal his choice in the casting of lots. By this method, the integrity of their group would be maintained…and from that tiny band of twelve, many would join and the numbers would grow.
The challenge for us today is to realize that in our warring of ideologies, we would do well to simply pray for discernment and leave the decisions to God. People too quickly weigh in on all kinds of issues that are better left to prayer. Where is God calling you to water, rather than uproot, the seeds he has planted? Do you really have the full picture of the garden he laid out thousands of years ago? Who is the Master Gardener?
It is a matter of “trust, and obey.” And pray.