2nd Passage for Study: Acts 9: 28 – 31 [NKJV] ... 28 So he [Paul] was with them [Christ’s disciples] at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. 31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
2nd Version for Study: Acts 9: 28 – 31 [The Message] ... 28-30 After that he [Paul] was accepted as one of them [the disciples], going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked, uninhibited as he preached in the Master's name. But then he ran afoul of a group called Hellenists—he had been engaged in a running argument with them—who plotted his murder. When his friends learned of the plot, they got him out of town, took him to Caesarea, and then shipped him off to Tarsus. … 31 Things calmed down after that and the church had smooth sailing for a while. All over the country—Judea, Samaria, Galilee—the church grew. They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully.
My Journal for Today: It’s good to take in this passage in the context of Paul’s growth as a disciple of Christ and as an Apostle (i.e., one called out to serve the Lord). Because it was likely during this time, in the growing Christian Church, that Paul learned the value of “the Body” of Christ and the power of interdependence therein.
Paul, the former lone-gun hitman for the Sanhedrin, had been a Lone Ranger anti-Christian; but now he was learning that going it alone as a Christian is simply counter-productive. God could use individuals for His glory. But that’s not the normal “M.O.” of God and His church, the tool He uses for His glory.
God has designed “His Body,” the church collective, to function TOGETHER; and in that paradigm, Paul had to learn that he was just one member of a living, breathing entity, … The Church. And that’s a lesson that many today, sadly, do not get. Perhaps you’ve been one of those “Lone Rangers” as a Christian, thinking that you can go it alone and serve Christ. But if you won’t humble yourself, as Paul was learning how to do at this time in his discipleship, God will lead you through some set of circumstances in life which will humble you. And that’s no fun, my friend!
I had to go through 22 years of my life, trying to go it alone, living for Bill Berry and only Bill Berry, to finally be knocked off my “high horse” in life and to discover that my only real power comes in surrender to God’s Spirit and finding how I fit into God’s plan and into His Church.
I’ve taught for years now that there are three “abilities” which every Christian needs to develop to become an effective disciple of Christ; and I believe the Apostle Paul learned to develop these three in the context of the early Church. Those abilities are: availABILITY, vulnerABILITY, and accountABILITY. And you will note that all three of these, coming in the order that I’ve listed them, are absolutely necessary for a Christian to grow in power and to be used effectively by the Holy Spirit, … all three of them requiring humility, unity, and interdependence within the Body of Christ.
I don’t have the time here to develop this teaching at this time; but the main point, which Paul came to learn, to live, and to teach was that we must integrate into Christ’s Body so that our gifts and talents can be maximized for God’s glory. If you’re out there trying to go it alone, trying to be independent as a Christian, you’ve missed God’s way of doing business, my friend. Get the message of Hebrews 10: 24-25 - linked - and get with God’s program. Choose to be available, vulnerable, and accountable – WITHIN God’s vehicle for success, The Church; or God is going to have to teach you His lesson in humility.
Take it from one who had to learn that lesson the hard way. It’s SO MUCH LESS PAINFUL to choose to be humble than to have God humble you in life. And if you can learn the lessons of mutual availability, vulnerability, and accountability, God will find a way to use you bigtime to shine His light, to use your good works, and to glorify our Lord (see Matt. 5: 14 - 16 - linked). But if you go it alone … God will let you go it ALONE, and your Christian light will become hidden under your own basket of selfishness.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, maximize my humility and my ability for Your glory by using me in Your Body. Amen