This Sunday we’ll be reading about the further adventures of Paul and Barnabas as they continued their missionary journey in the region of Galatia. We’ll be reading all of Acts 14.
As you read this, v4 tells us that the gospel had a familiar effect as it was introduced to the city of Iconium, what is it? How would you feel if you were these guys and constantly facing opposition for their faith? What does this tell us about the nature of the gospel and what we can expect as we attempt to represent it in this broken world?
There’s a humorous little story when they get to Lystra. An amazing healing takes place which results in people making an assumption that Hermes and Zeus have appeared in human form. They start the process of sacrificing a bull and celebrating and feasting…while Paul and Barny tear their clothes and plead with everyone to cut it out. It’s sort of alarming the things that can happen when people try to co-opt the gospel and insert it into a preconceived belief system. Have you ever seen that happen in our own world of 21st Century America? What examples can you think of that would represent a twisting of the gospel to promote an element our culture? The gospel confronts our established belief systems – it doesn’t provide a way to manage our old gods.
in v15-18 we have an example of how Paul framed the gospel message for an uninitiated gentile audience. He declares that there is one God who is Creator. Then he describes the ways in which this God has left clues about his existence. If you were to use a single word to describe the tone of his message, what would it be? Have you ever thought about God demonstrating his reality through a good meal (v17)? There is something so clean and uncomplicated about this message, I really love it.
The gospel still ends up getting Paul in trouble – he’s dragged out of town and stoned. Miraculously, he doesn’t die…but I imagine he’s pretty busted up. When he gets up, where does he immediately go and what does he do? Is he like Kurt Russell shouting “Tell ’em I’m comin’, and Hell’s comin’ with me! That doesn’t seem to be the gospel approach. What does Paul do? What is the most natural response to mistreatment? Does this example encourage you…or overwhelm you? What can we learn about the way the gospel is made known?
Welp…hope to see you Sunday! Have a great Memorial Day weekend, and please pray for those who’ve lost so much in our national conflicts – and above all, pray for peace.