Day 23: Can You Keep A Secret? (Acts 11:19-30)
Today’s Passage: Acts 11:19-30
We have, I expect, all read a book, watched a movie, or at least know about a story where something really bad is going to happen to a town, city, or the planet. You know those movies where the alien space ship is about to “nuke the planet”.
A person, usually in some top-secret government facility knows this information, yet is sworn to not tell anyone, lest they cause widespread panic.
Their concern for their loved ones is too great. It overcomes them, and they make the phone call that is repeated many times in these fictions. It goes something like, “Honey, I can’t tell you why, but take the kids and get to Canada…don’t pack…just go…and go NOW!”
Ever seen one of those movie scenes? If you were the person with that knowledge, could you keep such a secret?
Could you? I have a theory about secrets, secrets in general (nothing so dramatic as “end-of-the-world” secrets). My theory, independent of the secret carrying life-and-death consequences, is that people need to tell someone, just one other person the news. And of course, that person then needs to tell just one person. And so on…
The larger the impact of the secret, the larger the pressure to spill the beans.
It isn’t just my theory. I used to work at a place that required a government security clearance. We were schooled on how to keep our mouths shut. One of the highest compliments we could be paid is when our spouses and family would, when meeting our bosses and co-workers outside of work, complain that they didn’t have a clue what we did at work—because we never talked about it!
The secret of Jesus cannot be kept to ourselves. Look at the text.
People have been flung far and wide because of Stephen’s death (if you are curious click here for a map of just how far they ran).
The text in verse 19 gives me a sense that this news of Jesus, as it was shared only with Jews, was done so almost in a whisper.
But it cannot be contained. The Good News breaks out, just as it had in Joppa through a godly vision, now it spreads across Antioch as people share what has literally changed their lives.
This is not a small thing—and it takes place in one of the major cities of the world. Antioch was only behind Rome and Alexandria in terms of importance in the Roman Empire. It was the third most important city in the known world. Today, what city would that be? Beijing? Dubai? New York? London?
The Good News overtakes everyone. So much so that the church in Jerusalem hears of revival (see verses 21 and 24 regards a great number being added) and sends Barnabas. He is so impressed that he goes and gets reinforcements in the person of Paul.
It might be natural to begin writing about how we are to share this Good News which we know is NOT to be kept secret. Yet, my mind is going in a different direction.
I go back to my opening comments about the movie, where one of the characters has news that will save the lives of people, people he loves. His information is powerful. The pressure to deprive those he loves from this life-saving news is too much and he violates all the rules to tell them.
It seems to me that whether or not we share the Good News might just come down to what we believe will happen to people who do not know Jesus after they die.
Do we, do you, do I, believe that if a person dies without knowing Jesus, they could spend eternity apart from God?
I do. I believe people are dying because they don’t know Jesus. I believe, especially in the West, people don’t know Jesus because they have no information, or wrong information about him. All their information is “second-hand” from others.
It is why I love the idea of simply handing someone the Gospel of John and inviting them to read it. Let people get information about Jesus “first-hand”. Allow Jesus’ own words to “do the talking”. But again, it all comes down to whether or not you think people are dying.