The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
One of the challenges we face as Christians in this world is that of ministry philosophy. On the surface, Acts 27:33-38 seems an unlikely place to look when developing a philosophy of ministry. However, there’s something very interesting and, I think important here. The ship on which Paul was being transported had some 276 people aboard. Some of them were clearly known to be Christians. However, for the most part, we have no reason to believe this was a “Christian” cruise.
In this passage, though, Paul addresses the people clearly, identifying the true God, the one who he serves, and he explains that the Lord is going to save their lives, even though they have all given up hope.
What’s so very important about this is that we find no call for repentance and faith. We find no attempt to persuade people that if they believe in Jesus they will be rescued. For that matter, there’s no attempt to persuade people that this is the true God of all. Paul simply announces the promise of God. He urges the people to eat, as they have not eaten for some time and are planning to throw their food overboard to lighten the ship.
Granted, we normally don’t find ourselves in such challenging situations. Most of the people around you or me have no expectation that they will drown in the next few hours. In this great opportunity, when death is an impending reality, the apostle Paul simply identifies God clearly and proclaims his protection over the people.
My question, then, is this. Do we believe that the law we see all around us, and the Gospel of Jesus dying to save people from their sins is powerful enough to call people to repentance and trust in Jesus? The apostle seems to have thought that was appropriate, at least at some times. There would be time and opportunity for plenty of follow up discussion, teaching, and prayer. Paul’s concern at that moment was to care for the voyagers. Ours may often be similar. Care for people within our vocation, get the boat to shore, tell people that God really is merciful, and trust that they will respond. God’s Word is truly powerful.
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