Good morning all! So yesterday I finished the post, Take a Break! And then headed off to church and lo and behold wouldn’t you know it that the message God had waiting there for me to receive was that I should…take a break! Imagine that! LOL. So, just as THE doctor has directed I am taking this week off from posting. I will still be reading all the readings and writing about them, just none of you will ever get to see them. Instead, we will all be blessed to receive offerings from several friends of mine that have so graciously agreed to submit a story, or picture or video, whatever God leads them to share with us.
So without further ado, I present to you today’s guest writer, Mark Trietsch! Let’s give him a warm welcome.
*round of thunderous applause*
At our church Sunday, we had a very interesting guest speaker. His name is Douglas Carmel, (I hope I have his last name spelled correctly), and he is a Christ believing Jew. We have been studying the Passion of the Christ in my Sunday school class of middle-schoolers. So, I had Doug come in to speak to the class, as clearly, he would have more knowledge of Jewish history than I would.
One of the topics I asked Doug to address was the Roman-Jewish relationship. It struck me, the dynamic that presents itself so clearly, in both the case of Jesus and why Paul was sent to Agrippa. Doug explained to the class that the Romans didn’t really have a problem with Christianity, at least early on. They didn’t have a problem, because they didn’t really care. As explained by Doug, the Romans had their own gods, the gods of Olympus, so another religion wasn’t a huge concern for them. They were more interested in taxes. Worship anything you want, just keep the tax money rolling in. Sounds a lot like our government today, but that is another story.
The similarity in both cases is uncanny. The Jewish leaders, who knew the Old Testament, and therefore should have recognized the truth in the ministries of Jesus and Paul wanted them to be shut up by any means possible. This meant appealing to the very Romans, which they themselves hated, to do the dirty work for them. Meanwhile, the Romans, who knew little to nothing about Moses and the prophets, in both cases found the accused guilty of nothing.
Makes me think about how often times it is the people who should know better that are the hardest to reach with the Gospel. People who perhaps went to church as a child, attended vacation Bible school and heard all the stories, yet that is all they are to them, stories, People who can recite the Christmas story front to back, sing about the Silent Night but deny the very words they are singing. They may be the very definition of a “good person”, but ultimately they refuse to live for Jesus. They have head knowledge, but not heart knowledge. I marvel at the stories and testimonies of the drug addict or the alcoholic, with very little going for them, that they will receive the message of Christ openly, while the “normal” person shuts out the truth.
The other main thought I had while reading these chapters was that Paul never lost sight of his goal, his mission. Whether standing before a Roman ruler or an island dweller, Paul continued to present the Gospel message. He never let his circumstances change his mission.
It makes me cringe to think how often I let my daily surroundings determine my mood. If things are going bad at work, does that give me a valid reason to blow up, lose my cool, and act like a loon? Sitting in my living room, the answer is a very clear “of course not”. Yet how often do we let small things take us away from our ultimate mission. How many times do we let work situations, or the behavior of our kids, determine whether we publically show Christ’s love to others today? Or, will we get mad at our temporary hardship and focus on our need, and how we are being “cheated”? Through chains, prison, house arrest and shipwrecks, Paul saw every situation not as reason to throw up his hands and quit, but as a new stage to present the Word of God. Paul looked to make the best of every situation and circumstance.
Makes one want to lower their heads a little. Most likely we will never find ourselves lost at sea, or shipwrecked, or stand in chains before those which could kill us. Yet we can almost look for reasons not to be a witness for Jesus, to decide to “turn it off” if we feel like it. May we strive to be more like Paul, to see the opportunity in whatever God presents us with and to carry our witness for Him wherever we find ourselves.