“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirt, it multiplied.” Acts 9:31
These verses synopsize an interesting time in the early life of the Church. Contention arose in Jerusalem and Saul was looking to “wreak havoc” throughout the Church all over Israel and beyond. However, an experience with Jesus on the road, traveling to Damascus changed all that. For a short time, the Scripture records that peace settled in on the Church as it was being built up.
I have witnessed a similar phenomenon in my life and that of others. There are periods of time where God provides peace. Yet peace didn’t last long in the church, and frankly, doesn’t last in our lives. Throughout the past 2000 years of Church history, there have been periods of peace but many more periods of difficulty and challenge we might call war. Some “wars” within the Church have been and remain legitimate defense of orthodox theology and appropriate expression of faith lived out. Some “wars” throughout history have tragically been inappropriate having little to do with the Gospel or Christ.
The key to this verse, however, is not peace but instead the challenge that follows. They walked in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. As a result, the church multiplied. These two things seem to almost contradict one another. Fearing the Lord appears to be a lost practice in the 21st century American church. Fear and reverence naturally leads to submission and obedience. A relationship with God should naturally lead our hearts to revere His name and faithfully follow His Word. Living in that reverent fear brings an amazing comfort that the Holy Spirit applies at the most needed times. The story of Scripture iterates the same message throughout its pages. True comfort from God in the face of life’s incredible difficulties only comes when we acknowledge God for who He is and worship. We get a glimpse of the bigger story and find comfort and peace knowing that while storm may be coming – there is One greater than the storm.
When choosing to worship, it seems that the questions of “why” give way to comfort and peace – even in the midst of the war.