I stepped into the classroom and let out a tired but grateful sigh. 2012 was here!
It was New Year’s Day and I was teaching 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school. January 1st would be our last lesson in Acts, and though I was excited about starting Romans I also felt nostalgia about finishing the book of Acts.
My mind went back to spring of 2011 when we started the Bible’s first-hand account of the early church. We learned about Peter and the disciples’ Spirit-lead faith, about God breaking chains both physical and spiritual, and about the apostles’ determination to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Jewish people – and eventually with the Gentiles, too.
We read about the early church’s persecution and the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and about Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Later we saw the evidence of Paul’s changed heart as he preached Jesus Christ to all who would listen, we learned about Paul’s time in prison and the letters he penned to the churches while behind bars, and we read about his travels and shipwreck on Malta.
This week the lesson was in Acts 28:17-31 and the memory verse was Acts 28:28. The pointed words spoken by Paul sum up the book of Acts well and still resonate today.
“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”
Paul’s main concern – even after he was arrested, wrongly accused, and placed under indefinite house arrest – was not in clearing his name or getting out of the difficult situation he was in.
Paul’s central focus was telling others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if some in his audience didn’t believe.
After placing the red marker back on the whiteboard shelf, I went over to sort the large Ziploc bag I brought from home. It contained magnets and various other items for the lesson’s activity. I was excited because I knew the kids would really enjoy the hands-on activity and how well it tied in to the heart of our lesson – that it’s important we share the truth of Jesus, even if people don’t believe us.
Like the magnets, some would attract while others would repel the gospel.
Inside the bag were a couple other magnets, Lego pieces, paper clips, rocks, a nail, small toys, and other random objects. The kids would guess which items would attract and which would repel and then test them out.
I also brought along a little red lobster that clings to the side of our fridge. Who would think a tiny stuffed animal crustacean would attract to the magnet? It was so funny to hear the kids’ surprised squeaks when two tiny red claws stuck decisively to the magnet, and it reminded me that we never know who will attract and who will repel to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul experienced this firsthand when the Jewish leaders came to listen to him speak about his faith.
“So when they [the Jewish leaders] had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.” ~ Acts 28:23 & 24
As I read and studied that section I was struck by Paul’s great burden for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Verse 24 says that he talked about Jesus, “from morning till evening.” All day! And rather than be upset that some in the crowd didn’t believe, Paul plugged on in his preaching Christ. During two more years of house arrest in Rome, Paul continued speaking Jesus to anyone who would listen…”preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31)
This New Year, as we make resolutions and begin with a clean slate of hopes and goals, remember He who made our slates clean. Jesus Christ. Though some we come into contact with will repel God’s word and His work in our lives, others will attract to our Savior.
Lord, give us the courage to tell others about You, even if they don’t believe.