When sharing the gospel, it seems that sometimes the greatest opportunities arise out of times of opposition and struggle. This is exactly what we see in Acts chapter 16, as the apostle Paul and his ministry companion Silas are thrown in prison for working to share the good news of Jesus. How do they react to this unjust treatment? They sing praises to God! They created such a curiosity among their jailers, the message of Jesus found an open door where previously there had been none. Is this perhaps why Paul says in Philippians 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”? There is a lesson for us here. Often when we face opposition, we turn away deciding the door is closed. Like water, we look for the path of least resistance. I hope, however, that we renew our faith as we learn that out of opposition arises opportunity.
We wrap up the Still Church series by highlighting the struggles that led up to the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15- mostly the Jewish pressure on new Gentile converts to become fully Jewish in order to become “truly” Christian. The early Church was able to overcome this struggle, an internal one, as well as the external struggles of persecution by maintaining their focus on the mission of Jesus. That’s our lesson as well. How do we overcome the struggles we face as a church today? Focus on the mission.
In Acts 11, the disciples who followed Jesus were called Christians for the first time. The really cool thing? It was those who observed the way they lived, who were on the outside looking in, that called them Christians. What would people say about us? What would we be called? Will the lives we live point people to the one we claim to follow? As we tackle part 3 of the Still Church series, these are the questions I hope we will be asking of ourselves.