By Robert Halsey Pine
“Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.” (Acts 23:12-24 NRSV).
The Lord was near Paul as there were those plotting to kill him in Jerusalem. Jesus was telling Paul that he’d better get used to rough treatment because it wasn’t going to get any better in other places that Jesus would send him. Slowing Paul down is like trying to pick up spilled mercury with boxing gloves on. Paul shames me. I let many things get in the way of my spreading the Gospel.
Paul’s conversion experience was like being hit by a freight train. He was knocked down and blinded by the light of Jesus. After Jesus restored Paul’s sight, Paul took off like a rocket and never slowed down. Anything that moved was a candidate for conversion by Paul. Jesus knew that once He got Paul’s attention, He’d have a great communicator of the good news. Thanks be to God that Paul’s ministry is preserved for us in scripture.
I ask myself, “What am I doing to continue Paul’s work for the Lord in my time?” Too many times I find myself wanting to be incognito for the Lord. I just slip around and do these nice things for the Lord. When I’m around some of my un-churched friends or co-workers, I try to act like them so that I’ll be accepted. Heaven forbid that I be singled out as being too religious. My silence sometimes condones bad behavior and non-belief. I hesitate to ‘go public’ with my Christianity.
I would never have made Paul’s “Spread the Gospel” team. What I find, however, is that people who I think would have no interest in a spiritual conversation surprise me with their acceptance. I find that most people are interested in the spiritual life even if they are not living it. To my surprise, many people are plain hungry to know about God but haven’t figured out how to go about finding Him.
Father God, Fill me I pray, with the spirit of St. Paul. Don’t let the devil’s bullies knock me off my course as I serve You. As with Paul, help me to knock the dust off of my shoes and clothes and move me on to those who want to know You. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.