Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 20:25-31

Paul is saying goodbye to the Elders (leaders) of the church in Ephesus, believing this to be the last time he will see them. (v.25) So it follows that he would aim to make his words count. His words to these church leaders contain principles that can be applied to those in church leadership today. But they can also be applied to any believer, since we should all be aiming to not only be taught, but to help others learn the truth more as well. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Paul seems to have Ezekiel 3:18-20 in mind when he says that he is "innocent of the blood of all men". (v.26) In this Old Testament passage, God told Ezekiel that if someone continued in sin because Ezekiel did not warn them about it, Ezekiel would be held responsible for their sin as well. Paul says that he is innocent of this kind of sin because he never hesitated to proclaim the entire will of God revealed to him. (v. 27)

In the same way, we should recognize the responsibility we have as believers to communicate the truth to others. God has given us the incredible opportunity to see lives change before our eyes, if we are willing to share the truth that God gives us.

Church leaders and all Christians should keep watch over themselves and each other, not with an eagerness to find fault and point fingers, but with the mentality of a shepherd, modeled after the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who went so far as to give his own life for all of us, his foolish, wandering sheep. (v.28)

Paul recognized a danger common to many Christian communities (probably all of them on at least some level). In the absence of good leadership, people will try to start their own movements based on false ideas and values, resulting in terrible damage to those they influence. (v.29)

And these people won't necessarily be outsiders. (In my experience, they are usually already members of the community.) They may be people you already know, or even those in some form of leadership already, who will champion a pet cause, bending scripture to support or over-emphasize their agenda, and create division in the community. (v.30)

Paul's urgent warning regarding this possibility is to "be on your guard". We should constantly be "seeking the truth" regarding every idea presented to us, asking ourselves, "does this align with what the Bible teaches?" Paul devoted three years to helping these leaders in Ephesus discern truth more effectively, and he did so constantly, and with great passion and cost to himself.(v.31)

I'm convinced that this kind of active discernment, instead of passive "auto-pilot" living, can make the difference between a life fueled with God's power and purpose, and a life spiraling off track, devoid of meaning without even realizing it. As geeks it can be especially tempting to live life vicariously through the fictional worlds we enjoy. But Paul's words here serve as a call to you and I to turn off auto-pilot, stay alert and engaged with the real world, discerning what is most important and pursuing the truth.

Next- Paul's Farewell, Concluded

Coffee House Question- When a Christian you know presents an idea that seems counter to what you believe is true or biblical, what most commonly keeps you from saying anything to counter or respond to what they've said?

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