Be The Church in Your Work
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
There is a lot to talk about in this scripture. It may only be six short verses, but what is found is three very different storeis. I want to start with Paul and the relationships that he is forming.
He arrives in Corinth, this major bustling sea port and begins to ask around for where he can find work in his trade. He is afterall a tent maker, meaning that he would make tens out of the skin of camels or goats. He get’s connected with a jewish couple who work in the same trade. Aquila and Priscilia. From what we find they build a great relationship with Paul.
Here is what I want you to notice, Pauls uses his work, his trade or occupation, to build a relationship with some who are not yet Christians. I’m sure that unlike last week when we looked at Paul speaking to the people of Athens that he had much in comon that he could talk to them about. . We don’t see the results o this relationship here, but elsewhere in scripture we find that these two beome leaders in the church and missionary companions of Paul.
Here is the thing, you have the best oppertunity to see someone changed for the cause of Christ at your work, or in your neighborhood, or where you are. I’m sorry, and I know that some willdisagree with this tatement, but I believe that it is far more effective to build a relationship with someone at work or school, or in the community and then invite them to join you in church than to just randomly hand out flyers or knock on doors. Paul here begins working along sie this couple and eventually they become followers of Christ. We’ll come back to this in a bit.
Preaching in the Synagogue
Preaching in the Synagogue
The second thing that we see happening here is that Paul begins to teach in the Jewish Synagogue. Now when we look at this from our mindset it seems odd that he would preach in the house of worship of a competing religious group. but, we need to understand that at this point in history there was no seperation between Juadism and Christianity. Christianity was vonsidered largerly as a sect of the Jewish faith. Paul was a skilled scholar of the Old Testament. He was aPharisee trained in the best schools of Juadism. They would have welcomed him in with open arms to teac. And hebegins to teach about Jesus, but most likely he is teaching not of New Testament .. because it doesn’t exsist yet, but is teaching from the Hebrew Scriptures and relating it to Jesus.
We are really not told how long this goes on, but it seems to o on from ome length of time.
Then one day he has a little issue. He feels prompted, or led by the Holy Spirit to speak more boldly about how Jesus is, maybe this is the point when he tells them that they are wrong and hthey must begin to follow Jesus as the Messiah.
Once again the same thinghapens to him that happened last week in Chapter 17. He is rejected. They are angry, they apparently are threatening his life . They are charging him with blasphmemy, the same charge the threw at Jesus. Do you see a trend here?
Notice what happens?
Things don’t always go well. I am constently reminded in scripture that rejection is part of what it means to follow Jesus. We think of Paul as this great mssionary and evangelist. We all want to be like him and see the world changed and transformed as he did. But, the truth of the matter, just in the scripural account of Paul there seems to be far more set backs than victories. And yet we leanred last week that “some belived” This week we find that some believed as well, because that couple that he began building a relationship with back at the beginning of he chapter become great leaders in the church. There seems to be a difference between th flash in the pan o the Pentecost thousands saved in Jerusalem and the slow rowth in the rest of the world. One of the things I read from comparing the two is that these samm movemtns of Paul , probsbly had a bigger worldwide impact. God can and does work in the small just as he does in the big.
What then is our role in this? I think it is the empracing of this progression that Paul has acepted. It all begins back at ar work or in our neighborhoods. It begins with the building of relationships. becaue notice that we do not see that Pual had much success in the synagogue in his account, though I am sure seeds were planted Yet, we do see that an impact was made through his work. As he traveled around it was his practice to continue to work, even when there were churches that would support him financials. I wonder if god has placed you in the work place you are in to make the same difference. I have been thinkin a lot about our little community lately and i realize that this is a very “churched place.” Yet, we realize that for such a churched place there are a lot of cars still in driveways on Sunday mornings. As I talk to people what I ahve realized is that there are just so many people who have been hurt by church. People who believe in Jesus and desire to follow him but the church itself has hindered that. And if we are honest we can probably think o some that have come through the doors of our own church that will say that.
We have a responsibility to bring about that healing and reconciliation to those who have beern churt by churches. I am always amazed by how many girls come through our gabriel Projecrt and ask if they would be welcomed in our church. And they always have a story of a church that they went to that they were not welcomed. The were corrected, judged, asked not to come back. How many people we come into contact with that are deeply hurint becaus the church has completely rejected and abandonned them because of decisions they have made. And they see no path back to God.