Thursday, February 02, 2006

Preaching Jesus (Acts 13)

Acts 13 sweeps us away with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Their first stop is an island named Cyprus. Rich in copper, paganism, and scenery, Cyprus was a missionary’s dream stop. Upon arrival, Paul and Barnabas start preaching the Word of God (v. 5). At Paphos, a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus (Elymas) balked against their message. He didn’t like what they had to say and made sure they knew it. He apparently had some influence over the Roman proconsul on Cyprus (Sergius Paulus) because he tried preventing him from hearing the Good News (v. 8). Then Paul steps in…

Unyielding to opposition, Paul stood up to Bar-Jesus. He called him what he was (a child of the Devil) and with the help of God summoned blindness upon Bar-Jesus (v. 11). Imagine being able to blind someone because they opposed your message about Jesus? (Think of the many lawsuits that would incur if used in our day and age?) This sign from God, along with the teachings about Jesus, was enough to convince the Roman proconsul (of which Bar-Jesus was an attendant) to become a believer (v. 12). Once again, God takes an initially bad situation and turns it around and uses it for the building of His Kingdom (See article on suffering to learn more about that).

I find Paul’s stand against opposition amazing. This is just the beginning too! Acts is filled with numerous occasions where Paul stands toe to toe with unbelievers and persecutors (some so mad they wanted him dead!). And through all of this he doesn’t back down or water down his message. He keeps preaching the truth about Jesus Christ. Really we shouldn’t be surprised, the Holy Spirit enables us to take a stand for truth. That’s just one of the many activities of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Paul stood up for the message of Jesus Christ despite the reality of discord. Could you do it?

My observation from this passage is the opposition Paul and Barnabas face because of their diligence in proclaiming the Word of God. To be honest I have never faced this type of hostility for preaching Jesus. Sure, I could brush it off and say it’s because of the country we live in, but is it? Doesn’t the Bible say if we love God the world is going to hate us? Or is America excluded from that? I’ve yet to come face to face with a Bar-Jesus (an outspoken critic against the message of Jesus Christ). I wonder how I would fare amidst friction against my Christians beliefs? So, here are my questions for you to think about this week:

- Have you ever been opposed for preaching Jesus Christ? (I’m not talking about Internet discussion either, but real life stuff.)
- When’s the last time somebody intentionally disagreed with you because you proclaimed the Word of God?
- If we never come up against or experience opposition does that mean we’re not really preaching the Gospel? The true Gospel of forgiveness offered by God, through His Son, by death on a cross (who was then resurrected) for our sins? What do you think?


SlimDuck said...

I've been in that situation and was actually on the verge of being arrested in Fort Wayne in June of 2003. Long story. Ask me if you want to know the story.

Anyway. The first thing that comes to my mind is: How did Paul feel about Bar-Jesus? My guess is that there was not fear but compassion.

Think about that for a minute, Paul used to be Saul and Saul was most likely had to have related closely to Bar-Jesus. Here Paul must have been seeing his former life from another point of view. Saul had been blinded just as Bar-Jesus.

Do you think it was coincidence that God sent Paul? I really doubt it. God is definately the the master planner. With that in mind, just remember that God has you exactly where He wants you.


slony said...

Good stuff Tim. I often wonder if I (or we as Americans) really get the "full experience" because of our aparent lack of intense persecution...