Acts 18:5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. 6 When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
At the end of Acts 17 we read about Paul proclaiming the gospel to a crowd of Gentiles in Athens, some of whom received the message and became believers. Then we have this story in which Jesus is preaching to Jews in Corinth. One would think Paul was the perfect vehicle to be an apostle to Jews given his background as a Pharisee trained under Gamaliel. I’m sure he was brilliant in referencing the law and prophets to substantiate that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.
But, by and large, Jews were not receptive to his message.
Paul could not have known in advance that his ministry focus would be Gentiles, not Jews. And in these chapters in the book of Acts we see Paul coming to this realization – to his obvious displeasure (v.6).
A local church cannot effectively pursue EVERYONE, but those in whom God’s grace has gone ahead.
As I think of the church landscape here in suburban Dallas I realize how diverse it is. There many different expressions of Christian community. There are large churches, smaller churches, Catholic churches, evangelical churches, charismatic churches, mainline churches, and so on. And on the one hand you might think, “Do we really need all of these churches?” I believe the answer is “yes”. Why? Because there are so many different kinds of people who will respond to different expressions of gospel ministry. No one expression of church can effectively engage all of the people.
This morning I’m wondering, “Who are the people God has given to Rejoice Lutheran Church as a focus for our gospel ministry?” Our passage for today reminds me the answer may surprise me. God reveals this to us as we watch for those who actually respond to our witness, not those who we think should do so.
Lord give us eyes to see where your grace is going ahead of us as we bear witness to the Lord Jesus. Amen.