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Listening Devices

Click here to read Acts 22 on BibleGateway.com

stubbornAs Christians, one of of our more direct commands from Jesus is to share his teachings with others. As per the norm in our capitalistic utopia, we have interpreted this to mean that we should write many books on leadership, get degrees in communication, and attend workshops hosted by famous people. Fortunately, the Bible also has a thing or two to say about communicating the Gospel to people, and it might not be what Dr. Bob suggests in 12 Ways to a More Effective You.

In Acts 22, Paul is in the middle of his usual riot (seriously, can’t this guy just get along with people?), and the crowd is screaming for his head or other body parts. Verse 2 gives us the first part of his experience: “When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.”

SO FAR SO GOOD

Lesson One: Talk to people in a language they understand. Jesus clearly illustrated this by his reliance on parables. Was Jesus capable of deep theological debate? Since He was God, let’s go with “yes” on that one. But he chose to share the deep truths of the Gospel in story format. So that people would understand.

Jump ahead to verses 21 and 22: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”

Lesson Two: At some point, people don’t want to hear the truth. This is especially painful for many evangelists and pastors, but it hits all of us as Christians sooner or later. We tend to think that if we just learn to witness better, if we are more open to the Spirit, if we build relationships, if we study our Bible more, then we will know just what to say to our family member who needs to get saved. We will be ready when that debate comes up in class and all will turn to Jesus. If we were just “better,” everyone would be a Christian.

PUSH COMES TO SHOVE

However, this is not what the Bible says. When Jesus spoke, some believed, and some didn’t. When Peter preached, some believed, and some didn’t. When Paul taught the crowds, some believed, up to the point where the teaching became difficult. All in all, we’re all of us stubborn jerks. When the Gospel challenges people to change, to give up their rights, to have or do or think less of themselves than they think is fair, they reject it. Jesus himself told his disciples that people will hate the message, and as a consequence hate them.

This is the call of being a Christian. We are called to share the Gospel, not to get people saved. There’s a difference here that sometimes gets muddled. Just as God gave you the choice to accept or reject salvation, others have the same choice. We are called to preach and teach in the way people will hear, not in the way that forces people to accept.

That should be enough of a comfort and a challenge for anybody.

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