Read Acts 13:44-52
Acts 13 confirms a turning point in redemptive history: the focus of God’s saving work is moving away from the Jews and toward the Gentiles. This remarkable move of God’s Spirit is worthy of contemplation on its own. But what struck me when I was reading this passage was the very different way various the groups in this passage reacted to the Gospel. The Jews were filled with jealousy because of the crowds listening to the Gospel. In contrast, the Gentiles honour the Lord with gladness, ‘and all who were appointed to eternal life believed’ (13:48).
As I read, I wondered whether various people’s reactions sometimes show us something of where God is actually at work, and where our priorities in ministry and mission should lie? Could it be that the prevailing culture of a church, or its dominant voice or ethos, tells us not only something about people, but also something about God?
I don’t think God is drumming his divine fingers on the celestial table of indecision, waiting for human beings to show him where he should work. It’s more that a receptive church culture shows he is already at work. His spirit is bringing change to attitudes and behaviour and the deepest recesses of the human will. Like how the Gentiles in Antioch Pisidia who responded so warmly to Paul’s message.
So: give careful thought to the the church culture you are working for. Is it one of one of negativity, jealousy, control and manipulation? Might God be turning away? Is His Spirit being quenched, and the Spirit’s flame being put out? Or is the prevailing church culture and its dominant ethos one of joy, gladness and the celebration of faith in Christ? Is this where God is focusing his attention?
give careful thought to the the church culture you are working for
I know these can be uncomfortable thoughts for people whose theology rests upon the wonderful sovereignty of God. Even so, the Bible helps us face the music of our own responsibility. That means the way we behave, the things we do, and the attitudes we hold have profound implications for God’s mission in our church community and the world in which we are placed.
Consider: What might happen if we directed our resources toward those contexts where there’s a context of joy, gladness and faith?
Q: Do you think this passage allows us to draw these conclusions? Leave a comment as to why or why not.
Are there any hazards of thinking this way?
Prayer: Lord, let my ministry and mission be one that draw people into the gladness of faith, honouring you. May it draw people into a deeper desire to share you grace with those who are far from you.