“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul” (Acts 13:1, NIV).
Five different men. Different hometowns and classes and sorts of education. Different experiences. Different perspectives. Different voices. All put to use for one goal: to see God’s kingdom come.
It’s easy to feel small. Each of us are one of over seven billion people on this planet, which is but a spec when we look at the heavens, which we can’t even see all of. Have you ever been somewhere without a lot of streetlights or lit buildings and looked at the stars? No matter who you are or how much space you take up, you’ll feel tiny. Our lifespans are short, mere blips on the radars of history and time. These mortal bodies don’t last, and we aren’t here long.
It’s easy to feel insignificant. Believe me, I know. Comparison is one of the devil’s dirtiest tricks. All it takes to get us to mentally beat ourselves to a depressed pulp is to force us to look at people who are doing incredible things or the same things as us, only “better,” and think about how that’s not us. Sometimes we think we’re replaceable or invisible. In our lowest moments, we convince ourselves that if we were visited by the Spirit of Christmas Future, it’d show us that our absences would make no difference or a positive impact.
That’s not what God says, and that’s not what the opening verse of Acts 13 shows us.
If I asked you to tell me one thing about Lucius from Acts 13:1 apart from where he was from and his involvement in the church in Antioch, you couldn’t because we know nothing else about him. We do know that he was just as loved by God and just as important to God as Saul/Paul, famous convert, preacher, and author of a large chunk of the Bible. So what if he wasn’t a childhood friend of Herod like Manaen was? It didn’t make him less valued by God or less useful to God.
It’s the exact same with you.
These men in Antioch also show us that there’s no mold to fit into. There’s no entrance exam that forces you to prove your intelligence or strength or that determines how good of a fit you are or are not based on your opinions or skills; there’s merely examination of how your soul is in need of Jesus’s salvation. Your background doesn’t discount you. Your experiences do not disqualify you. Where you’re coming from, figuratively and literally, doesn’t make you unfit for God’s kingdom. In fact, God’s kingdom longs for your voice.
I wonder how much it hurts God when we let our notions and definitions of what we are and are not ruin our views of ourselves. After all, it hurts us. And God made us out of a place of immense love, and all He does for us comes from that place too. If we believe there’s no place for us in God’s kingdom, it’s not based out of truth. God’s heart races for you and pours out love and hope and mercy for you. There’s just as much room for you at the table as anyone else.
By Carrie Prevette