Acts 21 – 26, posted by Tim Sherwood
My typical method for reading God’s word is to read through the text the first time as I would a magazine article or newspaper. This “quick” read helps me see the arc of the story and take in the scope of what God is saying, without getting to distracted by names I pronounce poorly or relationships I don’t fully understand. Then I reread the passage more slowly to in order to focus on details and appreciate complexities that I more than likely missed during the first reading. This style of bible reading has been beneficial to me in the task of writing a blog. I simply focus on those ideas that stick with me after both readings.
I walked away from these chapters in the book of Acts with a couple of thoughts I just could not put down. First, the Roman justice system focused too often with pleasing men, rather than achieving justice. Second, and more significantly, Paul used every opportunity, situation, and interaction in his life to tell people about his relationship and experience with Jesus Christ.
The parallels between Jesus and Paul’s experience with the Roman legal system are striking. Both men are brought before Roman authority on made up charges from the Jewish religious leaders. Christ and Paul are both said to be innocent and not deserving of death by those who have the authority to declare it so. In both cases, the men placed in authority are more concerned with the opinion and reaction of man than doing what they know is right. There is an important spiritual lesson to be learned here. We should never become too concerned with pleasing man over doing what is right in the eyes of God.
As we look upon Paul’s life we see that God used the gifts of a dynamic personality and intelligent mind to carry the gospel around the world. He dedicated his life and a significant amount of energy as shown in the description of the whirlwind tour in (Acts 21:1-16) to teach and encourage. Looking at that travel schedule and comparing it to our upcoming trip to Ghana makes me feel like a bit of a wimp, frankly.
However, even when times get really tough and most would say it’s time to focus on yourself, Paul continues to focus on the mission Christ called him to. When Paul is first apprehended in Jerusalem, he tells the crowd about his conversion (Acts 22:6- 21). When he is taken to before Festus and Agrippa, he again tells his road to Damascus story, obviously with the intent to convert all who hear it to become followers of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:12-29). He is living out what he says in Acts 21:13 “…For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
When reading about the apostles I often find myself thinking “Yeah, but that was Paul or Peter, and surely Christ is not calling me to that”. Then I wonder if I am simply worrying about pleasing man (myself) more than doing what is right in God’s eyes. How about you?