11“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did some of the Prominent Greek women and many men.”
This is another amazing chapter describing what’s happening on this second missionary journey of Paul with his sidekick’s and mentees, Silas and Timothy. You will notice that Paul always goes first to the Synagogue in each place – Thessalonica, Berea and Athens. He does this for a number of reasons, but primarily to fulfil the covenantal promise in Genesis 12:2 – where God says to Abraham that ‘I’m going to bless you so that you will bless the rest’ (Brad Foote version). So, Paul wants the Jews and those who are God-fearing Gentiles or believers in the Jewish faith to hear this Good News about Jesus the Messiah first. He wants to prove to them that the Torah, the Jewish scriptures and the prophecies have all been pointing to Jesus (17:3,11, 17). A key component in Paul’s preaching is centred around the scriptural proof of the ‘prophecies about the sufferings of the Messiah and his rising from the dead’ (3). When Paul gets to Athens, we find him expanding his evangelistic scope beyond the Synagogue and into the foray of the ‘public square’ (17). There he engages in the social custom of public debate with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. This is awesome and this practice demonstrates to us that Paul was extremely versatile and he was willing to preach the Gospel to not just the Jews and the God-fearers, but he’s on a mission to the world/ends of the earth.
Paul’s modus operandi and evangelistic practices can teach us a lot at Newlife as we respond to the four building blocks or ‘Strategic Goals’ that we’ve identified in Pathways (p.10).
- Developing Leaders, 2. Healthy Growth, 3. Planting Churches/Campuses, 4. Becoming a Lighthouse Church
I’ll reflect on Becoming a Lighthouse Church: – The Thessalonian Church became a lighthouse church with a regional and cultural influence. We find this in 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9.
Over the years, Newlife has grown in its influencing and lighthouse capacity. Eighteen years ago, I went for an overseas trip to the US, to see growing and developing Churches in America such as Saddleback with Rick Warren, Willow Creek, the Crystal Cathedral and a number of other great churches in Alabama, Pensacola and Atlanta. I went with 20 other Uniting Churches leaders and Pastors. The trip was led by Rev. Ken Anderson who was at that time the lead minister of Robina surfers Paradise Uniting Church, which now is called Newlife Uniting Church. So, we (at Newlife) have always been blessed with the responsibility and privilege of being a Lighthouse Church. I’m so thankful that Stu and the Elders of Newlife are taking seriously that calling/responsibility. Stu often says, you need to pick, “your lane”. Now I too, am part of that responsibility of being a leader in this Lighthouse Church where we are seeing ‘more people, more like Jesus’. Luke says it this way in Acts 17:6 – “Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city” (v.6). Maybe the city leaders of Brisbane will be saying that in 12 months’ time after Newlife Brisbane has commenced. Let’s be praying for that response!
How are you leaning in passionately to these ‘building blocks’ or ‘strategic goals’? Don’t waste the opportunities that God is giving you here at Newlife. Pray that Holy Spirit reveals your gifts for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
God, you have created the world and everything in it. The nations have been created by you. You are a world changing, God. You have redeemed the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Him, we live and move and have our being. By your Holy Spirit we have our breath and you satisfy every need. We humbly submit ourselves as part of your church here at Newlife into your plans and purposes for the future. Feed and lead us we pray. AMEN