Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”
At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. ~ Acts 11:19-30
Now that the idea of what God's church is like and who is part of it has been determined in Acts, we go about seeing how it begins to spread and how it begins to work.
And here also we have the first use of the term "Christian."
Before that, Jesus' followers we called "People of the Way." (I admit that sometimes I wish we'd kept that name. It reminds us I think of the faith journey we are all part of, as well as Christ being the "way" the truth, and the life. Again, God wanting life for the world.)
It seems an afterthought how we learn of the title "Christian," but everything else here seems quite intentional.
Leaders emerged: Saul (Paul), Barnabas.
Relief was given to those who were suffering.
And God's word continued to spread.
In the past 2,000 years we've been trying to make a formula out of this. Trying to keep the work going; keep providing relief; keep making leaders; keep spreading God's word.
Keeping looking for the "way."
We are still people for the way, and admittedly, sometimes that way doesn't seen clear.
Sometimes it seems the way is keep us more focused than the word itself. But God has the way. God keeps the way before us always, even when we feel like we can't see it clearly in front of us. Lord, help me to find the way before me. Amen.