Friday, June 22, 2012

Paul and Hostile Climates

Our Church Council sometimes spends more time in Bible study than in dealing with business issues.  Last night was one of those times.  We read Acts 14:  8-18, the passage where Paul heals a man who can't walk, and the local people decide he and Barnabus are Hermes and Zeus, and Paul must dissuade them.  We asked ourselves questions about Paul's ministry, specifically about how clear he was about his ministry. 

We then asked about the ministry of our church and our own ministry in the world.  Some retired folks talked about how they try to be a good model in the world and a good model to other church people.  I talked about being in the work world which is often hostile to Christian ideals and ethical behavior of any kind.

We talked a bit about the questions that my brain often circles:  can we be in a climate where we are surrounded by unChristian behavior and emerge unscathed?  Can we keep our principles?  Can we resist the antiChristian values of the larger culture?

We talked a bit more about Acts and the ministry of Paul.  Paul often travelled to hostile places, and throughout his life, it wasn't clear that he was winning many converts.  Now, from the distance of thousands of years, it's clear what Paul accomplished.  If we had lived during that time period, we might not have been so sure.

We talked about our plans for next year's Vacation Bible School; our pastor knows of a VBS based on Acts, which boggled my brain at first.  But I forget what rollicking good stories the book of Acts contains.

It's been a long time since I read the whole book, and it's probably time to return to it.  I think of myself as much more a Gospel girl, and I wouldn't mind reading whole Gospels at one sitting either.

Why choose?  I can do it all.  I think that we sometimes forget how short these texts are.  We get little pieces in our church services, if we get them at all there, and even smaller pieces in many devotional texts.  It doesn't take that much more time to read the whole book.

When I just read/hear the small pieces, I forget the larger picture.  I forget that Paul was not triumphant all the time.  I forget about the hostile climate that often greeted Christ.  And in my forgetting, I progress into my own future a bit more blind than I need to be.

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