Saturday, December 19, 2009
Lessons from Acts
I just finished a 56-day study in the Book of Acts this morning.
Throughout this study I was struck by the tenacious character of the early Church, the power of the Holy Spirit that both advanced it and held it together, and the tremendous opposition from those that should have been the first to embrace it.
All of the above characteristics of Acts can be seen in the final chapter of the book. Paul, perhaps the most tenacious character in all of scripture, has finally arrived in Rome. He does what he had always done. He takes the gospel to the Jews first. This had to be Spirit motivated! In the natural going to the Jews first would surely not have made any sense at this point. The Jews were the reason Paul was a prisoner in the first place. They were the reason for the scars on his back. They were the reason for the broken bones. They were the reason for the bruises caused by stoning. They were the reason for most all of Paul's struggles. Yet, here he is, once again, taking the gospel to them first.
As a minister of the gospel my first obligation is with those that are closest to me, even though they are also the ones most likely to inflict pain upon me. My first obligation is with the flock that God has given me, yet they are not my only obligation. In my estimation the modern day American Church is much like the Jewish community in the time of Paul. In the final chapter of Acts, Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah to the Jews in Rome, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." God had previously warned Paul that much of what he proclaimed would fall on deaf ears, "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles (those outside the chosen community) and they will listen.
I am truly thankful to pastor a church that cares about the outcastes. I pastor a church that proclaims the message to the flock, but understands that many don't want to hear. I am so thankful to be able to stand in a foyer on Wednesday nights and watch the outcastes of my county enter our building because we have literally went into the highways and the byways and compelled them to come in! When I stand on the floor in the Against The Grain youth dome on Wednesday nights I feel like Paul in the marketplace of Athens.
I am deeply grateful for The StoreHouse! Together may we "Salt The Earth, and Secure The Harvest, Until He Comes!