This month I’m at the end of a Community Bible Study course in Acts of the Apostles.  I went into the study expecting to learn from Dr. Luke’s sequel all about missions as experienced by the first of many great missionaries, Paul.  And I was not disappointed.  Of greatest interest is the way that Paul presented the gospel to people of different cultural backgrounds differently.  To the Jewish people he talked about the Prophets; to the Greeks in Athens he talked about God the creator being unique in comparison to their man-made gods.  And in all cases he got right to the point of Jesus’ life, death on behalf of people, and resurrection. 

I was interested to see how Paul took care to alter his approach depending on the audience.  He always appreciated where they were at spiritually, and recognized ways in which God was already working to draw people to himself / to Christ.  When relating to Jewish people, he used Scripture and religious customs familiar to them.  When talking to Greeks, he appreciated that they were religious, and tho he was disgusted by all the idols, he didn’t condemn the Greeks for their idol worship. 

I was also impressed with Paul’s perserverence in spite of suffering multiple jail sentences (unjustly), house arrests, beatings, being hassled by Jewish leaders, and several shipwrecks.  All those setbacks did not discourage him from telling people everywhere about Jesus.  And they didn’t cause him to re-evaluate his methods.  He wasn’t bogged down by past sins or accomplishments.  Instead, he was able to say, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for whcih God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13b-14)

After studying the book of Acts, I’m challenged as a  follower of Christ to live out my faith not based on lofty philosophy or borne out of sitting around the “bath house” or study groups thinking, but out of experience, suffering, messing up, being forgiven, out of having put faith into action in real life.

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