Monday, July 14, 2008

Acts: Philippi (16:11-40)

In Philippi we are shown another aspect of Paul’s ongoing strategy. A demoniac girl begins to follow the missionaries around. All she does is tell everyone they see who they are and why they have come. Why does this annoy Paul so much? Many missionaries today see this as an important part of the operation. They proudly announce to everyone they meet the fact that they are sent by God with a message to proclaim. They share with everyone who will hear.
Upon closer examination, it appears as though Paul does not share the Gospel until he is invited to do so. He does constantly seek out the opportunity and position in which he will be invited to share, but he does not initiate. This is a huge and often overlooked aspect of evangelism. Think about it. If God is already dealing with people before any messenger comes along, then there are some people who have already begun to respond to Him. They are simply waiting for the chance to accept the truth. These people will be more likely to listen to the Gospel and respond to its message. The task of the messenger, then, is to always be on the lookout for people who are already searching.
Paul and Silas demonstrate another aspect of this “response sharing” in their jail cell. They are always proudly living out their faith. They openly worship and live their Christian disciplines. Later, when they do not run away at the first chance of freedom, the jailer already knows something of what they are about. He is then able to ask for more information when he is ready to receive the Gospel.
What Paul did not want, was to jump the gun and give people a preconceived idea of who he was. When people think they know what you are all about, they will seldom ask you to clarify it yourself.

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