Today we read two stirring chapters about the commitment of the Apostle Paul to preach to as many as possible about the message of our Lord Jesus. It is the only message that matters.
These chapters give some indication of the dangers that surrounded the Apostle. At Corinth “the Lord said to Paul one night, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent …’” (Acts 18:9). In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul commented on “the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks …” (1:8-11).
In Acts we notice that “when they (the Jews) opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’” (verse 6). Is our understanding clear as to his meaning – “I am innocent”? He means he has fulfilled his responsibility before God to witness to his own countrymen!
These words have a lesson for us: first to witness to those among whom we live, and after we have done that we should seek to make an opportunity to go further afield seeking places where people are prepared to listen – as Paul did. And there are certainly countries today where people are prepared to listen. If it is physically impossible for us to do this then the next best thing is to support those who can and so be “innocent” in the sight of God and our Saviour.