Thursday, February 28, 2008

Acts: Simple, Yet Hard (5:12-14)

At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number…” –Acts 5:12-14
 
This passage may just be read through quickly, but it is really a bit of complicated information. All the personal pronouns make for confusion in the intended meeting. Who meets in Solomon’s portico? Is it the church, or the apostles? Who are the “rest” that don’t associate with whoever is in the portico? And, depending on the answers to the first two questions (or perhaps not) how was the growth of the church accomplished?
 
All of these questions are ultimately not as important as a couple conclusions this passage illuminates. One: the Gospel, in spite of its simplicity, is not easy to accept. It is offensive. It is hard to believe. It is even harder to accept in a way that is effective for life change. Two: it does change lives. It has an impact on culture wherever it goes. It is unstoppable.
How do these conclusions affect the way missions should be done? For one thing, while the Gospel does need to be translated to new cultures, it does not need to be softened or made less offensive. It does not need to be made easier to accept. If its offensive, surrender-demanding aspects are removed it ceases to be the Gospel. God is the one who convinces. The messenger simply delivers the message. If the message is changed to aid the convincing, then it is no longer the same message.

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