As we continue on in Acts, we get to chapter 17. This is a tricky one because as I read it, I immediately saw a pattern, something which I wanted to talk about. Then I went away and thought about it, and I started to re-consider. Why? Fear. I was scared of what people may think. I know, that doesn’t sound like me, but it has been rather pleasant not to have any direct, aggressive opposition for a while. I then thought about something that Andrew Wommack once said, if you don’t have resistance from the devil from time to time, it may be because you’re travelling in the same direction. The last thing that I want is for my posts to become watered-down and irrelevant, so here goes, brace yourself.
In this chapter, Paul moves from synagogue to synagogue, preaching the news of Jesus Christ. This, as you can imagine, causes some issues and ends up with a group of angry people following Paul, stirring up the crowds to come against him. Now Paul doesn’t give up, he moves on to the next place and does the same thing. Paul has a desire to see people enter into a relationship with Jesus, and nothing is going to stop him from preaching the Word. He doesn’t get discouraged when people come against him, he just keeps on doing what he is there to do. I would like to be the same. I have had similar experiences, although I have never set foot in a synagogue. I have had this experience in churches!
Let me make it clear, I am not trying to convert people to Christianity, I am trying to get them to follow Jesus. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian actually follow Jesus. I know that sounds absurd, but it is true. I have been asked to leave churches (on more than one occasion) for doing things that Jesus did. Healing the sick, casting out demons, making disciples, preaching the Word. If you do these things (the very things we are called to do) in many churches and ‘Christian’ religions, you may well be shown the door. Does this mean that we give up? Did Paul give up? No. If you have been asked to leave a church because you are following Jesus’ teaching, you are in good company. If you have never been asked to leave, you’re either in a good church, or you’re not doing it properly :-). Paul was not concerned with what people thought, or did. The gospel is bigger than that and the gospel was Paul’s focus. It should be ours too. Dare I say that ‘religion’ (the practises that we do) have generally overtaken the relationship that we have with Jesus. It is sad, but there are so many people out there who do so much ‘religious stuff’ without actually experiencing the love of a Saviour. This breaks my heart (similarly to as it must have broken Paul’s). I will not stop preaching the truth. I am in an excellent church now with the pastor’s backing and others who believe as I do, so I shouldn’t get thrown out of this one any time soon, but I am quite prepared to be asked to leave another church should God move me on. When the Bible says go out and make disciples, to save the lost. Many of those ‘lost’ are sitting in churches on a Sunday. Difficult to believe, but true non the less.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all of our efforts should be within the church. I am just as keen to get out into the world to bring God’s Kingdom into every situation, but sometimes we need to get our house in order before we can get others into it. Paul went from synagogue to synagogue preaching the truth. The truth is seriously lacking from many of our churches today, maybe it is time to preach it again. If you are stuck in a ‘religion’ and you really want a loving relationship with Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, invite Him in. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Do it, and then trust Him as your saviour. Get hold of someone who has this kind of relationship with God and tell them that you have made this decision. Read the Bible, think about what you have read, and then ask God to show you how that applies to you.
If you have made this decision, take a look at some of the other posts in this blog, and follow it. I will continue to teach as long as God asks me to do so.
You are blessed!