Skip to main content

None of My Business: Acts 18

Christianity keeps spreading throughout the Roman Empire. In the process, it begins to separate from the Judaism that it originated from. This leads to a great deal of tension between the two groups of people, especially as people leave one for the other.

Meanwhile, life in Rome goes on. The Empire goes about its business, the usual business of Empires: conquest, trade, taxation, commerce, and circuses. Empires are about those items and seldom are truly concerned with religious matters. Historically speaking, religion has been co-opted by governments for their own ends, but rarely has that been good for any religious group.

Paul, meanwhile, is not focused on imperial matters. He is focused, instead, on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the pursuit of the passion, he’s gone from place to place, and now he finds himself in Corinth. Starting off, he splits time between making tents and preaching, but once his team of Silas and Timothy arrive, he focuses his whole effort on the preaching work.

Interstitial nerd note: there is something here to be gathered regarding vocational ministry. Paul sets two examples here: 1 is that when necessary and helpful, he worked with his hands to provide; 2 is that when necessary and helpful, he worked solely at the spread and teaching of the Gospel and others handled the provision. Both the “never pay a preacher” and the “pay a full-time preacher” arguments can be found in Paul’s behavior in Corinth. Meaning? That one must do what is necessary based on the situation.

Eventually, the spread of the Gospel throughout both the Jewish and Gentile communities of Corinth leads to rioting. Alongside the riot, the Roman Proconsul is asked to mediate the religious dispute. He, showing some political acumen, backs out of the argument. His statement: this nonsense has nothing to do with me, my laws, and my responsibilities. Solve it yourselves.

Well, the rioting occurs, the synagogue leader gets beat up by his own people, and Paul goes on with this business. The verse in Acts 18 (link) that I would key on for this? Acts 18:17, where the text records that Gallio, the proconsul, was “not concerned about any of these things.”

We need to keep this in mind: the world does not care one bit about the internal religious arguments of the church. End of story.

There may be feigned interest, but really what the world sees in a religious squabble is a reason to avoid religious people altogether. Certainly we do not need to expect the outside world to fix our problems—we should fix those ourselves. No one else will actually care, much as Gallio does not.

Now, what do we do with this?

1. Of all the lessons in Acts about the church, one keeps repeating. It’s here as well: the business of the church is its own, and the world will at best be indifferent. Normally, it’s hostile.

2. Be certain we grab hold of help from the right angles. Every where you look, it appears that someone wants to tell the church what to do: the media. Celebrities. Wannabe no-good bloggers that spend all day trying to write a blog post. Methodists want to fix Baptists and Baptists, Presbyterians. The world wants to fix the Anglican Communion by pulling it left and others want to pull it right.

We want to be certain our help comes from the right place: the Word of God and those committed to that Word.

3. Avoid dragging our petty fights into public. Now, to be clear, if criminal activity is found, then take it to the legal authorities. (In a situation were the laws are clearly ungodly, that’s a different story—if the situation is clear.) However, if you are upset about which hymn you sang last week, do you really need to bicker that out over dinner in public? Not bloomin’ likely, mate.

Of course, the blog world becomes a gray zone on this one. Blogs and discussion groups allow people to connect that never encounter each other in public. That connection then leads to discovering petty issues that aren’t petty when they are a pattern of behavior—but neither are they private. Taking a personal beef to a blog is not always the best route, but it is sometimes the only one.

4. Finally, do not count on the world’s help when you are right. Stay focused on doing what is right, and let the rest come as it may.

Today’s Nerd Note: We meet Apollos here. Good chap, Apollos, in Acts 18:24-28. Evidence that learning and passion are good starting points, and that clarity of instruction is the crucial ending point.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Book: The Gospel Call and True Conversion

A quick note: This book, The Gospel Call and True Conversion, is currently available on Kindle for $4.99. This is the second in a series of 3, and the first, The Gospel’s Power and Message, is available for $2.99.The Gospel Call and True Conversion. The title of this book alone sounds intimidating, and adding that it’s written by one of the heavyweights of American Reformed Christianity, Paul Washer, does not lessen the intimidation factor. Washer is known to be a straightforward preacher—for good or for ill.What did I find in The Gospel call and True Conversion? I found some things to like:1. Paul Washer is passionate for the truth. He wants to know the truth. He wants to proclaim the truth. He wants the truth heard. He wants you to know the truth. This is good. It is good to see someone not try to base theology on popularity or as a response to modern events, but to base it clearly on truth. 2. There is a strong emphasis on the reality that true conversion (from the title) will resu…