Monday, December 7, 2009

“We will hear you again on this matter.” (Acts 17.32)

New Testament Challenge, Day 23 – Acts 17-22

With today’s reading we see Paul’s conflict with the Jews escalate until he resolves to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. This by many has been seen as Paul’s failure to convince the Jews, but with what Paul reveals to us in Romans regarding the Jews’ hearts being hardened by God (see Romans 9) we can be assured that it wasn’t the failure of Paul but the will of God that He preach to the Gentiles. And I am thankful that he did. We read today of the multitude of Greeks that came to the Lord by Paul’s early preaching, “and many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18.8) This I believe to be evidence that if someone is truly seeking the Lord, they will find Him because it is the Holy Spirit that opens our hearts to Jesus Christ.

Nonetheless, whether people are seeking Him or not, we must share our experience of Him with others. God cannot be known, for He is unknowable. He can only be experienced as He has revealed Himself to us. For some this happens immediately but for others it is a process as it was for the Greeks. We should take note though that Paul taught each person from their own level. To the Greeks he began, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious.” (Acts 17.22) This should inspire us to not presume a beginning point other than where each individual person is in their journey toward Theosis (unity with God). We must not pressure others to accept Christ since freedom to either accept Him or deny Him was granted by Him. We can only love and share our joy in the Lord with others.

This does not mean that we should sit idle and “let them come to us,” if they are looking for Jesus. The Gospels are filled with examples of healing miracles and other parables of salvation where because of the willingness of others to proclaim the greatness of God, others were able to find Him. We must do no less, if we are to be true followers of Jesus Christ.

In yesterdays’ Gospel, (Luke 13.10-17) the woman who was healed stood up and praised God for her healing. If we love the Lord then let us stand up and praise Him for all to see. Then, when others are seeking Him they will know where to look.

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