A Greek term that means “widely scattered,” Diaspora is a term many times referring to the Israelites and the fact that they were one nation scattered among many. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it like this: a group of people who spread from one original country to other countries, or the act of spreading in this way. I love that thought.
The scattering of the nation of Israel was usually due to some not-so-good circumstance (think: exile and persecution). Challenging circumstances and yet God had an amazing plan for it all. The scattering of the Jews in New Testament times, meant the church spread throughout the known world. The exile of Daniel’s generation to Babylon might have been how those “wisemen from the East” knew about a Christ child and followed a star.
In the Greek words of the New Testament, we see the dispersion of the Jews in the realm of the Roman Empire. In the Hebrew equivalent, it referred more to exile or deportation. Either way, the Jews did not necessarily plan to be where they ended up.
God took those not-so-good circumstances and used them for good. It makes you wonder if He hadn’t planned it all along.
As I pondered the word Diaspora in reading through 1 Peter lately, I pondered another people group that God has scattered and wondered again what His purpose and plan was in it. My family and I live in a military culture, a unique people group from a single nation. We have chosen military life, but so many times it can take us places we never expected.
US Military folks and their families are on every continent in the world, even Antarctica periodically. We are embedded into cultures and nations yet retaining our citizenship of the land from which we originated. As a Bible-believing, Christ follower in this military world, I can’t help but wonder if this Diaspora of folks might be a purposeful act of God as well.
As Christian military folks, the Lord has scattered us across the globe. In those places of hardship, isolation, fear, and adventure, we have the opportunity to speak life, hope, peace, joy, and Jesus into those around us. We impact the local communities because we invest in the people there. We help plant and grow churches, love our neighbors, feed the poor, comfort the brokenhearted, encourage the weary. We do what the Lord has called us to in the place we are planted.
Much like the Diaspora of the Jewish people, this life can sometimes be challenging. Facing isolation, persecution, and myriad of other challenging circumstances, all far away from our “homeland,” we learn to trust in the One who sent us in ways we never anticipated. We even dream sometimes that, much like Daniel, we may very well have an impact on the Kingdom years down the road because we were faithful to our calling today.
It is a calling. One like none other. It’s a life our family believes the Lord has made for us, at least for this season and this time. Much like missionaries, we have opportunities for amazing adventures and a front row seat to see God at work. I know our civilian counterparts experience these things as well, but I sure do love the adventure He chose for me.
When I think of the Diaspora of the Old and New Testament, I am reminded that the same, faithful God is still at work today in much the same way.
Am I willing to go? Am I willing to be obedient and courageous in the place that He plants me? How will the Lord use me and will my life leave a legacy of Jesus?
Good questions for all of us. Military or not.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance” (1 Peter 1:1 NIV).