Disruption and Duty

Before continuing, take a moment to read Acts 8:1-8.


Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary defines disruption as the act of rending asunder; the act of bursting and separating. The root word of disruption is disrupt which has come to mean to cause disorder or turmoil; to destroy, usually temporarily, the normal continuance or unity of; interrupt.

Throughout our country’s history we have experienced many disruptions:

  • On April 19, 1775, in the little town of Lexington, Massachusetts, the lives of all who lived in Colonial America were suddenly disrupted by “the shot heard round the world” - the start of the Revolutionary War.

  • The lives of the citizens of the United States of America were once again disrupted when on June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed into law the American declaration of war. The War of 1812 had begun.

  • The Civil War - a major disruption to the United States - began on April 12, 1861 when Confederate soldiers bombarded Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. In this war, which lasted until April 9, 1865, it is estimated that some 750,000 soldiers died making it the deadliest conflict that our country has ever seen!

  • On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I. Yet another disruption. Ironically, World War I was named “the war to end all wars.” However, we now know that would not be the case.

  • December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” began another disruption as Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese thrusting the United States into another war, World War II.

While other disruptions have taken place - not all of them related to war, - let’s jump ahead to one disruption that most of us remember quite well: September 11, 2001. For those of us who are old enough we can very distinctly remember where we were and what we were doing on that day - a Tuesday - a day which had begun just like any other Tuesday and yet, who can forget watching, in the days, weeks, months, and years after that as lives were forever disrupted.

On Saturday, March 14, we sent a phone message to our church congregation stating that, due to COVID-19, we would not have services on Sunday, March 15. Little did anyone know how our lives would be disrupted over the course of the following 2 months and 10 days! Little do any of us probably realize the disruptions that our lives will face in the weeks and months ahead.

In the passage of Scripture that we read a few moments ago, we see that the life of the early church was forever disrupted.

Acts 8:1–3 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

The early church experienced great persecution.

When Luke writes, “…there was great persecution against the church…,” I don’t think that we can truly appreciate what it was that the church experienced.

One sense of the word persecution is that those in the early church were hunted down as we see later in verse 3.

The early church was scattered.

They were driven out of their homeland. They were forced to leave their homes, their jobs, their families. They were forced to leave behind everything!

Notice though, in vs. 1, WHERE they were scattered: “throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria.” That will be important to remember later on.

The early church was damaged.

In vs. 3 it says that Saul made havock of the church. This is the only time, in the New Testament, that that phrase made havock is used.

It means Paul damaged the church; he brought harm to the church; he injured the church.

We are specifically told that Saul went house by house searching for Christians. When he found them, he took them to prison where, presumably, they would face death.

Talk about disruption!

Our lives, for better or worse, have been disrupted over the past 2 months and 10 days. I would say that our lives have not been disrupted nearly to the point which the early church was subjected but our lives have been disrupted nonetheless.

How have we responded? How should we respond? How will we respond in the days, months, and years ahead?

Which leads me to my second point this morning:


In the days following 9/11, military recruitment saw an 8% increase and remained high until 2005.

One of those recruits was William Grigsby. He said, “The events of 9/11 had everything to do with my decision to enlist.

One recruiter, in referring to those who enlisted after 9/11: “It was all about the patriotism. They didn’t care about anything else. Money had nothing to do with it. I think half of those kids would have joined if we hadn’t paid them.

These young men and women, who enlisted after 9/11, saw their enlistment as a matter of Duty. They felt a responsibility to protect their country.

What about the early Christians whose lives were so forcibly disrupted in Acts chapter 8? What duty, what responsibility did they feel, for and to the cause of Christ?

Notice what is said of these early Christians in vs. 4:

Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

They preached the word everywhere!

You may say, “That doesn’t sound to out of the ordinary.” That may be until you realize that...

They had not been fulfilling their duty!

Do you remember what I asked you to keep in mind from vs. 1?

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

The phrase, “…they were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria..”

Since the resurrection of Christ, the early Christians had stayed right in Jerusalem. Some of you are thinking, “And your point?

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

These Christians were not supposed to stay in Jerusalem. The duty given to them by God was two-fold:

  • They were to go.

  • They were to witness.

But, these Christians had not completely fulfilled their duty. In fact, most believe - as do I - that God allowed this persecution so that they would fulfill their duty as Christians! Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary (a) An Explosion (8:1a)“Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria” (1:8), said the Lord Jesus. Because the Jerusalem church had little vision beyond its own narrow borders, the persecution by Satan simply accomplished the Holy Spirit’s purpose. God makes the wrath of man to praise Him. Over these past 2 months and 10 days I have not had anyone:

  • Ask, “Pastor, how can we get the Gospel out during the lockdown?”

  • Get upset because we, as a church, were kept from being able to have Seed Sowing Saturdays for March and April.

  • Stop by the church to fill up on Gospel tracts.

But, I have had people:

  • That have been concerned that our constitutional rights have been trampled upon and are being taken away.

  • Who think we should have done more to get the doors of the church open so that we could meet again.

Please understand, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned about our constitutional rights or that we shouldn’t be concerned with getting the doors of the church open again.

What I am saying is that, if we are not careful, we can elevate the United States Constitution over the Great Commission.

What I am saying is that, if we are not careful we can make “going to church” a Christian idol and begin to worship it more than seeking to be obedient to Christ’s last command.

God allowed disruption to come into the lives of the early Christians so that they would remember their duty and then fulfill their duty.

Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Perhaps God has allowed disruption to come into our lives so that we would remember our duty and then fulfill our duty?

Matthew 28:19–20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

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