Tuesday, March 22, 2016

public not private

But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner."
Acts 26:25-26

Paul always found a way to make the gospel his main focus. Even as he stood before Herod Agrippa (the Jewish civil leader) and the governor Festus (the Roman civil authority) and defended himself from his Jewish accusers, he ended his defense with the truth of the gospel's saving message (Acts 26:22-23) and a call to believe it (Acts 26:27-29). Paul never missed an opportunity for the gospel because clearly he viewed his life, even when it was threatened, as the means to advance the gospel.

This Passion Week, as I contemplate the death and resurrection of my Savior, I am challenged by Paul's passion with the gospel to consider just how I might live that same gospel-centric way. Is each experience of my life an opportunity to proclaim the saving work of Jesus? I think so. Given that Paul preached the gospel to the two most powerful men in Jerusalem who were deciding on his fate as a criminal and who had the authority to execute him, what episode could I face that would be harder to speak the gospel? I can't think of a reason not to look for the gospel's proclamation.

The gospel is about a public scandal anyway. Paul was right... none of it... not Paul's present difficulties, and not the death and resurrection of Jesus, occurred in some obscure, secret corner. Jesus died in Jerusalem (a major metropolitan area) in a public fashion, having appeared before the highest civil and religious authorities there, during the city's busiest season (Passover), in a place so filled with people from all over the world that His charges tacked onto His cross were written in three languages so all present would know His claim. And Jesus rose again three days later causing such a commotion that within a generation His gospel infiltrated the length and breadth of the entire Roman Empire. The gospel as good news is meant to be public knowledge. And so Christians must embrace that responsibility and continue its proclamation worldwide in every generation.

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