Wednesday, February 24, 2016

on mission with courage

Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”
Acts 21:39

Thus begins a section of the book of Acts in which Paul's trials and extradition to Rome are recounted. Paul has entered the temple, only to get caught up in a hostile crowd. The crowd drags him from the temple, beating him as they go. Only when God brings a Roman centurion with armed guards to investigate the situation does Paul's life get spared. The Roman centurion attempts to find out the source of the mob fury, but the unrest is so great that soldiers have to physically carry Paul up out of the frenzy.

The crowd follows the military detail carrying Paul all the way to the army barracks, where at the raised entrance, Paul makes his request to speak to the crowd. The Roman tribune grants the request, and to the most hostile audience possible, Paul preaches the gospel, starting by sharing his own testimony of salvation. What boldness drove Paul to this point? He was driven by just one message: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that He died for our sins, was buried, and was raised again on the third day according to the scriptures.

As I see Paul's courage, I am humbled. Actually, I am humiliated. I worry about the consequences of sharing the gospel with a neighbor. How can I be so timid in the light of Paul's courage? Why am I so weak about my faith knowing and seeing how others have been so strong before me? I find my resolve to be on mission with the gospel strengthened. May God help me not to be so sinfully self-conscious about the good news of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ!

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