Recently I have been reading the scriptures and asking myself just one question. Just one. It’s this: “What question does this passage of scripture raise?”
Questions are a great route to the heart of any matter. Think of some of the questions God asked: “Where are you?” Or “What do you see?” Or questions that Jesus asked: “Who do you say I am?” Or “What do you want me to do for you?”
Whilst reading through Acts I came to chapter thirteen. The first few verses relate to the church at Antioch. Antioch was an incredible church. A pioneering church. It was led by one of the great leaders of the Bible, Barnabas. It had what you might call a dream team gathered around Barnabas. When you study the names and backgrounds of those various team members, you find ethnic and social diversity, and probably a mix of diverse personalities and intellectual abilities as well.
This church looks like it has managed to bring together just the right mix of people in the dynamic environment of the dynamic city of Antioch (Antioch was the third great city of the Roman empire) when God disrupts everything. During a time of fasting and worship the Holy Spirit speaks, indicating that Barnabas and Saul are to leave Antioch and set out on mission to the countries around the Mediterranean.
God disturbed the tlife of the Antioch church and as a result the gospel came to Europe.
So here was my question: “What does God want to disturb?” What does He want to disturb in my life? In the church I serve?
Those are good questions. But they are also big questions.
Clearly if we are compromising with some sort of obvious sin, God wants to disturb us and bring us to repentance. That goes without saying. God’s grace sometimes comes in the form of a wake up call.
He wants to disturb the sinful patterns of attitude and behaviour that are less obvious. Moodiness. Passive aggression. Stubbornness. Petulance. The list goes on.
Now for the perhaps more surprising discovery. God sometimes disturbs good things. He calls people to leave good careers. He breaks up very good teams. He takes us out of places where we seem to be very fruitful. He removes good people from our lives. It may be that He doesn’t want us to rely too heavily on “good” things.
How do we know when God is disturbing us?
In the case of the church at Antioch, it was through the Spirit that He disturbed the church.
Or something begins to stir in our spirits that makes us aware that it is time for change.
Sometimes it is through our situations and circumstances that He disturbs us.
And of course, the scriptures themselves can challenge us in quite unexpected ways.
Why does God disturb us? On the one hand it challenges our tendency to grow comfortable. Secondly, God is after the best, and as the old cliché goes, the good is often the enemy of the best.
Is God disturbing something in your life? What might He want to disturb? It’s worth asking yourself the question. Then pray and reflect on it. You never know what God might put His finger upon.