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.
2 thoughts on “Where do we see God’s grace going ahead of us?”
Indeed, it does take many different churches to fit our needs. A number of years ago I went to a ‘Mega-Church’ with some friends in CA, really disliked it. I have friends in Dallas that go to Mega-Churches. There was no communion (I need/want God in my life and for communion is not only Jesus physically in me, but I also need the symbolism that I am also with Him), no Lord’s Prayer, no creed recitation (what do they really believe in?), and no passing of the Peace (if we can’t pass the peace to ‘friendly’ people, how can we evangelize to others?)
Marie and I have also been to other Lutheran churches where were were asked to talk to the pastor before having communion (I don’t talk and take communion anyway). Why is some pastor that doesn’t know me supposed to judge my relationship with Jesus when I am trying to get closer on my path???
But in each case, the churches were full with people that felt comfortable worshiping in their styles and I’m ok with that.
My real worry are the churches that have corrupted the message for their own purpose. Paul had to deal with that too in his ministry; and I believe that these ‘false profit’ churches (black liberation theology, wealth theology,…) are part of the reason we have issues that lead to a more secular society. When we get new believers to listen to the ‘wrong’ message, they don’t learn God’s real message.
Lyn, as always I’m grateful for your thoughtful response. Rejoice is, and always will be, Lutheran at its core. We may push the boundaries a bit, but there are identity elements if you know what to look for – things like the sacraments, confession and absolution, the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, the sharing of peace, and so on. Hope to see you soon brother. I think we’re looking at a month to start opening the sanctuary on a limited basis. Nothing official yet, but it’s coming. You’ll here more soon.