Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Learning From Paul

 Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” Acts 22:22

Learning From Paul

Paul is at it again. For the sixth time he had riled up the crowds to the point that his life was in danger. He is in Jerusalem, and he has a large crowd before him now as he attempts to share the gospel again. 

This crowd is a mixture of Jews and Romans, and Paul wanted to bring unity between them along with sharing the gospel. Paul began by identifying himself with them. He spoke to the Jews in Hebraic dialect, and this got their attention. They perked up as soon as he began speaking and listened. I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. Acts 22:3 He went on to tell them how he persecuted Christians, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison. He then told them about his conversion and how he had been blinded, but now he could see, was baptized, and the Lord had said that He would send him far away to the Gentiles. When they heard that, the crowd turned into an angry mob, yelling things like “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”

When the crowd started going crazy, the commander ordered that Paul be taken away. Then they began to get ready to flog him when Paul pointed out that they were doing something illegal by flogging a Roman citizen before he had a trial. They quickly began to interrogate him and realized he was Roman by birth. They were alarmed that they had put a Roman citizen in chains. They released him the next day for a trial. Romans were first class, above Jews. 

Paul had evangelism down. He knew how to connect with the people he was speaking to. He engaged them by empathizing with them because he knew and understood why they thought the way they thought. He understood being trapped by religion and having to defend his religion. He was able to say to them “I was blind, but they helped me to see.” By that he meant that he was blind like they are, but now he could see the truth of Jesus Christ. He was not condemning and judging them but identifying with them – both Jews and Romans. 

Paul’s heart was for all of them. More than anything he wanted them to know the good news of Jesus Christ. He was willing to take risks for people to know that truth. In this crowd he faced ethnic, social, religious, and political tensions. Who in their right mind would take on all that? But Paul finds common ground with them so he can talk to them and share his testimony. It might have ended in chaos instead of a great benediction, but it was worth it to him. 

We can learn a couple of things from Paul about witnessing to people: 

First, pay attention to the people you are talking to. Why do they believe the way they do? Why do they feel the way they feel? 

Second, pay attention to where they are coming from.  If they don’t know our God, it’s no wonder they act and think and believe the way they do. People come from all kinds of environments, and we should not approach them thinking they know what we know about God.

What risks are you willing to take to tell others about Jesus? Like Paul, will you choose to press on, even when the opposition gets tough? Will you live your life with open hands following God’s lead even when you don’t understand? God calls us to share our faith with a brave heart, trusting Him to complete the work He starts in us. Look around. There is someone near you that needs to hear your story. Share your story honestly and trust that God will give you the right words to say. You are not doing this alone. He is right there with you, every step of the way.

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