Gardening is one of my favorite parts of living on a farm. Wide open, dark, rich earth waiting to grow amazing food for my family and friends. The process begins with planting the seeds close together in each row, watering, weeding, and watching to make sure each seed begins to sprout.
For the plants to grow best though, it is necessary to thin them out. Each plant is separated from the others with space between them to root down deep and reach up high for the best growth possible.
The Christian church experienced the same thinning out in the First Century. At the end of Acts 7 Stephen is stoned in Saul’s presence and with his approval. Acts 8 begins with, On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1 HCSB).
The believers were scattered like seeds and they began to grow. Under the challenges of believing in their hostile environments they brought with them the story of Christ. Still very fresh in their minds and hearts, the believers shared with others. And they grew stronger and their “fruit” began to form.
James 1 begins, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings (James 1:1 NIV).
The word used when James wrote his letter was diaspora (from Greek διασπορά, “scattering, dispersion”) — a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale. Diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland (Google).
James wrote to the believers as the hostility to the Christians was growing more and more fierce. He wrote to encourage them to continue to grow in their faith. To hold fast to the Truths his brother, Jesus, had taught them. To never stop praying for each other. James knew that by being scattered it was difficult, but he also knew their great growth did not begin until they were scattered.
So it should be with us– we cannot grow well if we are only gathered in one spot- we need to spread out to new locations to share what is in our hearts and minds– just like the First Century Church.
Let’s go and let’s grow!