Luke continues the story of Paul and his travels by following the same formula that we’ve seen before. Paul enters the synagogue, he preaches, some believe, others don’t, the city becomes divided. From there, the new believers want to know more and the skeptics want Paul killed.
It reminds me of a television series, but instead of wondering how a particular conflict could possibly be resolved in thirty minutes, we’re left wondering, “Paul can’t possible cause that much trouble in seven verses, can he?”
At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the gospel. Acts 14:1-7
Paul’s methodology demonstrates an important truth for us: missional living requires intentionality. There is a rhythm to his ministry that guides what he does.
1.) Find your Cheers. Find and develop such a rhythm that you can go to your Cheers, that place where “everyone knows your name.” Paul would seek out synagogues and go teach. This was the expected place for Rabbi’s to head, and Paul did so with great conviction. He wanted people to know the truth. Do as Paul did and “spend considerable time there.”
2.) Accompany preaching with service. Luke continually highlights that Paul’s preaching was always accompanied by miraculous works. We too must learn to pair words with action. Missional living highlights the need for both word and deed to be paired together. When both are done in the areas where we are investing our time and energy, we will similar opportunities to Paul.
3.) Focus on fruit, not on fear. Paul always seemed to focus on where the fruit was. He was positive oriented. He was aware of the danger and conflict going on around him, but never focused on that. Instead, he chose to focus on where his ministry was seeing success and inroads. We must do the same. Not everyone responds positively to the Gospel, and with the time and energy that we have, may we learn to focus on areas where the Gospel is advancing and invest joyously.
A life of Incarnational living and Missional ministry gives us opportunities to share and advance the Gospel that Institutional Christian can never do. May we be people who invest our time well, are known for our service, and bear much fruit.
What do you notice in the passage?