Monday, July 21, 2008

Acts: More of Macedonia (17:1-15)

A lot is made of the Macedonian Call, but not much about its initially frustrating results. Paul and company were only able to minister briefly in three cities in the region, and all three efforts resulted in quick expulsion. Ultimately, churches were established, but Paul was frustrated having to leave such young believers without his guidance.
 
Thessalonica was particularly vexing. He, as always, used his tried and true strategy of approaching the Jews and God-fearing Greeks first. Here we see not merely a sermon or two, but repeated meetings with in depth arguments and apologetics for the Christian message. This indicates the validity of being strategic in the way the message is presented. Pre-packaged presentations of the Gospel and tracts are only so helpful. One needs to present the news of Jesus in a context that fits the audience. In the case of the Jews, a defense from the Old Testament scriptures was needed. Today in those same regions a different approach would be needed. Often the Gospel begins not with: “If you were to die today…,” but rather with: “Why do you say: ‘There is no God?’”
 
Berea was a missionary’s dream city. Here the Jews did not merely accept or reject the message, but rather carefully studied the Scripture daily to see if what Paul taught was valid. Here Paul was probably less worried about leaving the new believers, knowing they were already grounded in seeking the scripture for answers.
 
Three cities; three dangerous oppositions. That is one summary of the missionary’s efforts in Macedonia. This was never Paul’s ideal in ministry. Short term missions are sometimes required, but never the desired strategy for the Gospel. From here on out, Paul would have more success in fully realizing his strategy, but first there was one more short stop…

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