Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guardians and Missionaries Wanted Acts 16:9-15

The Apostle Paul seems to have had both peace with God through Jesus and an unsettled spirit that left him out on the edge of the church spreading the gospel. Paul's life was tranformed by his conviction of sin and forgiveness by Jesus on the road to Damascus. His encounter with God seems to have completely convinced him that the kingdom was coming soon.
Paul didn't settle down instead he lived spreading the news going from city to city and country to country on the edge of the growing church. In Acts 16:6-8 we read of his plan to go throughout Asia Minor to spread the good news. But the Spirit had another plan and stopped him from go further into the land we now call Turkey. Paul was asked to cross to Europe beginning ministry in Greece.

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had
called us to proclaim the good news to them.
We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. Acts 16:9-13 NRSV

The kingdom of God grows when there's someone like Paul going beyond the current reach of the church to spread the good news. Still, knowing the essential missional need of the church, it's clear that not everyone shares Paul's exact missionary calling. Some in fact are called to build the church right where they are today. For 2000 years there's been tension between the desire to reach out in mission into the world with the good news that has released us from sin and the desire to be guardians who protect the Word of God and the community who has gathered around the Word.

In the first days of the church Paul argued with Peter (the details can be found in Galatians and Acts) about whether a person had to be a Jew first before being a Christian. Today there's plenty of debate about how we can best be church together. There are clear lines with camps defending truth and camps reach out out. The terms of guardian/settler and missionary/pioneer aren't new to our age; neither is the dialectical nature of our faith and calling as the church both to building up the body of Christ by guarding the truth of the Gospel and to go out boldly as pioneers into unknown territory in mission declaring the truth of Christ's love for the world.

The tension today divides some denominations between those claiming to defend the truth and those claiming spread the truth. Looking at these sides fighting over the wrong divide it's good to know that Jesus meant it when he said,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:27-28 NRSV
Many married folks know that God often works by pairing the gifts of opposite people together. The kingdom of God needs both those ready to reach out and those ready to build. God grant us the wisdom to appreciate the gifts that both bring to the church.

1 comment:

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