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.
One thought on “The Gospel Effect”
It seems the familiar effect of the gospel message is division. If I was constantly being beaten up for trying to spread the good news I might get a little discouraged. But, they totally weren’t, even when Paul was left for dead the scripture is silent about his reaction…I imagine that he was getting used to this and just got up brushed off and kept on fighting the good fight…This is totally challenging but encouraging to know we are in company when we are treated similarly..Jesus said he came to bring a sword not peace, that father would be against son, daughter against mother eluding to that division that would result from the message. It’s difficult to be rejected by men but if we know we’re accepted by our master we can continue doing the good that really matters.
One example of modern day twisting the gospel to promote an element of our culture I suppose would be the health and wealth message that was so popular for so long….It certainly didn’t confront our stuff and status seeking society but rather indulged the continued pursuit of pleasure and comfort all under the guise of God’s blessings..
I am not sure but I may detect a bit of a nonchalant tone in the message Paul presented to those gentiles. He is not trying to close any deals, not preaching hell fire or damnation and didn’t ask them if they wanted to pray right then…He calmly pointed out the basic truths that were evident around them and the blessings of our God in the simple things we may take for granted. He stated the truth, trusting God that those who have ears to hear will and was ushered out to take his beating! Getting right up goes and does the same thing again but this time according to God’s goodness and mercy many disciples were made! Paul was consistent that’s for sure, unmoved by the response of the message, he ran His race, eyes on the prize!!!!