Explore the Bible

with Cyndi Grace

Sunday,  February 18

Answering the Critics

Acts 26:19-29

To be honest with you, this has been one of the hardest lessons to write this quarter. It has not been hard because I didn’t understand what the Scripture was talking about. It was hard because I was convicted by the simplicity of it.  Our lesson is about Paul telling both Festus and Agrippa (along with his wife Bernice) the story of his life and how Jesus came and changed it.  It was simple and to the point.  Even when Fetus accused him of “being out of his mind and studying too much,” Paul stood on the simple facts about Jesus: the prophecies, His suffering, to his death, resurrection, and the call to those who believe. Paul could speak to kings and governors with ease for the story was alive and thriving within his very being. It was here the conviction came…we have made telling others about Jesus harder than it needs to be. Perhaps we have made missions about a profession or a trip but have not made it a daily lifestyle.

We have heard the phrase, “We are all missionaries,” but if that doesn’t translate into our daily lives it will not be true. It was in Paul’s DNA to tell everyone, kings and common people, how he met Jesus and his life was changed.  It didn’t matter that people disagreed, it was imperative that he share. That sharing caused him to be beaten and imprisoned because what he shared offended his society just as this same gospel offends ours. 

So, what is the difference between Paul and us? Here is the fact…Paul spoke like he did because he had a deep on-going relationship with Jesus. Jesus had literally changed his life and he couldn’t help but tell. My high school pastor told me I would never need training to evangelize if I ever had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. It was a bold statement on his part, but I never forgot it, and have since found it to be very true. Sadly, perhaps our problem in sharing Christ with others is because we don’t have anything to share.  Yes, we walked down an aisle, joined a church, and accepted Jesus as our Savior but we never allowed Him into our very beings where He could convict, heal, and change us deeply. Instead we have only a Sunday morning relationship with Him. To compensate for this, we developed programs to encourage us to share and out of guilt we “did” the programs without success. While that sounds harsh, the numbers of people who are coming to Christ in our communities is evidence of this truth.

Sharing Christ is not always going to be easy in this politically-correct world we live, but we were told that it would not be easy. Jesus warned that the world would hate us, so why is it a surprise to us that we are not greeted with opened arms?  (Remember, Paul was in prison when he spoke the words of our text!)

Peter lived in a more dangerous world than ours yet he encouraged believers this way: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” I Peter 3:14-15 (CSB) Don’t miss the words, “for the hope that is in you!” That is the relationship part of this whole thing.  Jesus gives us hope in a hopeless situation and we must be ready to share it no matter if people say we are out of our mind or studying too much. He tells us to be ready at any time, however, the gospel must thrive within us to be able to do this.

So, what is your relationship with Christ?  Is it thriving or on life-support. I am not asking if you are saved, you probably are, but do you daily walk with Him? How has he changed your life? Do you walk in hope or despair over the world situation?  Your honest answers will change you. Paul’s answer to the critics was found on his way to Damascus. Mine was found on my face years after I walked the aisle. The place doesn’t matter but we need an encounter with Jesus beyond just going to church. It is there we find our hope to share.

Grace is a Bible teacher and conference speaker and is a member of First Church, Clinton.