We continue our current survey emphasis on a faith for Him that can go across the world…Let’s get right back to Saul’s story we started last time in Acts chapter 9, shall we?
Plots Against Saul
19-21 Saul spent a few days getting acquainted with the Damascus disciples, but then went right to work, wasting no time, preaching in the meeting places that this Jesus was the Son of God. They were caught off guard by this and, not at all sure they could trust him, they kept saying, “Isn’t this the man who wreaked havoc in Jerusalem among the believers? And didn’t he come here to do the same thing—arrest us and drag us off to jail in Jerusalem for sentencing by the high priests?”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that our friend Saul/Paul while he was in rabbinical school didn’t necessarily set out at first to have his ultimate life ambition to be a world-traveling evangelist for a Messiah that he first wanted so bad to rid the world of. I mean, man–hey, come on–anyone who held the coat of those who killed Stephen and encouraged his compadres to throw rocks at him wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my list to become the next Billy Graham or Reinhart Bonnke. But it was EXACTLY those unique credentials our Master desperately needed at the time to use as a sort of world social influencer for Him. Keep in mind–Saul/Paul had some great things going for him:
(1.) We find later in the story of Acts one instance where one person talked about the high price required to obtain his own Roman citizenship. FYI–Roman citizens had legs up on those throughout the rest of society. If you didn’t have it, you were usually treated by the authorities as worse than a dog. BUT Saul/Paul only had to have done one thing to get his own Roman “carte blanche”–just be born in Tarsus. (I could go more into that particular part of the story–but time or space won’t permit me to do so right now.)
(2.) In the Jewish world, Saul/Paul also through his apprenticeship under Gamaliel and his sort of rockstar rabbi status could literally walk into ANY synagogue on the Sabbath and given much honor to where he was usually asked what at the time was called “responza”–i.e.–questions about Jewish life and customs in which he was asked to give his opinions and thoughts to the people on. Even a cursory reading of the book of Acts will show a number of times that the FIRST thing before he did anything else in any new town he showed up and stayed in for an extended period of time was to do what we would call “going to church”. Whenever he did that with his Jewish brethren on the Sabbath, Saul/Paul simply because of that previous name recognition had equal carte blanche to use as the foundation of his own ministry.
(3.) In Jewish tradition, it is virtually REQUIRED for a rabbi like Saul/Paul to ALSO have an outside trade and marketable business skill [for example–Paul’s was that of a tentmaker] to where he could reach people that he otherwise wouldn’t normally interface with AND to where the message he would preach would not be unnecessarily compromised or complicated by his own financial needs and problems. If a rabbi like Saul/Paul had to give a message from the Lord that might not be well-received by the people, having his own form of income totally outside his rabbinical service would enable him to proclaim that message without needing to water it down or sugarcoat it for the sake of keeping the money from the offering plate flowing his way.
By chance, are you still feeling like you got roped into doing something you didn’t really want to do in the first place? Or that you had certain expectations–but it didn’t necessarily turn out like you originally hoped? Then you all are in great company. Let’s explore that a little bit by checking out real quick what might be the basis of Romans 12 (NIV):
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Why would this most unlikely evangelist dare say things like that? We find part of that answer in a letter he wrote to his partners of an actual “prison chapel church” he would eventually play a major role in establishing–and while simultaneously revealing to us by the Spirit what should be first and foremost to all of us. We’ll start at that point of our current journey next time. (Sorry, campers–but gotta put the car in park somewhere in the shade and out of the summer heat.)
Until next time (as He allows), see ya at the CROSSroads–
(More details on CoyRH/SEATC Clerical Services and Broken and Shattered Promises Online Publishing via the contact info available at https://coyrhseatcbspm.wixsite.com/walking .)
CoyRH At The Crossroads