Jul. 22, 2017

The WOW Factor X 3

During one of Paul’s missionary journeys, God provided him with a map through a dream (see Acts 16). During this journey, he entered Corinth and met a man named Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. Paul began working professionally with the couple as a tentmaker. We don’t know all the ins and outs as why Paul took a very short sabbatical and concentrated on a secular career. Missionaries today cling to his example believing that vocational skills are great ways to engage in their personal mission fields. I often wonder if Paul was simply tired and needed a break due to the many trials and tribulations that came with his calling.

The furlough from missionary work was short lived. He returned to the meetings places sharing Christ’s message almost immediately. Paul’s time at Corinth during his second missionary journey presents me with three “wow factors.”

First, he found himself in futile arguments with shallow-minded religious people. His message was one of depth. His ministry insisted on authenticity and properly placed priorities. Paul called out to the religious community to get real and cried out to unbelievers to find redemption. Paul threw in the towel and walked away when the Jewish people at Corinth worked harder at being argumentative than they worked at being transformed. The word is very clear that Paul walked away saying, “You’re wasting my time. It’s now in the hands of our Lord.” (My paraphrase)

Wow #1 – Paul knew when to say, “Enough is enough and my work is done here.” He didn’t continue to defend himself or his beliefs when the Jewish leaders sought arguments more than they desired truth.

The second wow moment came through a dream of encouragement straight from God’s heart into the mind of Paul. God appeared to Paul in a dream encouraging him to keep up the good work. God’s Spirit spoke just the right words to Paul at just the right time providing a spiritual shot in the arm. He was renewed and refreshed by the dream. He continued his work in full confidence knowing God was pleased. Does anything matter more than that? If God is pleased with us, it really doesn’t matter who is displeased. This encouraging dream was all Paul needed to stick it out. He obediently remained at Corinth another year and a half in service to God. Lives were changed as a result.

Wow #2 – God is always aware of our surroundings and experiences. He knows what we need and when we need it. When our goal is to please God more than anyone else, He’s got our back. In fact, He’s got our back, our sides, and our front. He surrounds us with peace and strength, which is the perfect combination for any missionary.

The final wow moment came when I understood a governor’s response to those who tried to have Paul arrested – again. The Jewish leaders filed charges against Paul and turned him in as an extremist and troublemaker. The governor Gallio was the voice of reason among an unreasonable mob that really should have been much smarter than they behaved. Governor Gallio basically told them to get out of his courtroom. He was unwilling to deal with the petty, religious arguments and trumped up charges against Paul.

Wow #3 – There are times when the government shows more intelligence than God’s people. Sad, but true. I realize these times seem few and far between but that is exactly why it’s called a wow moment. There are times those in leadership see right through us knowing we aren’t acting on principle but more under the influence of pride. Thank God that He can see through our smoke screens and that He often uses those in authority to save us from ourselves.

*For further study, please see Acts 18:1-17 in an understandable translation.  I suspect there are some wow moments that I missed. Feel free to share them with me as they are revealed to you.