Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 46 | Acts 22
Acts 22 Reflections and Questions
By Dawn Townsend
I love a good story! Don’t you? Isn’t that why we go to the movies, attend Broadway plays, immerse ourselves in a New York Times bestseller or subscribe to the Hallmark Channel? A favorite pastime for most of us is getting together with friends or family and sharing stories. We talk about our favorite trip, our most embarrassing moment, a memorable encounter, or family memories. We are inspired by stories. Sometimes, we are challenged by stories. Most importantly, we learn from stories. Stories ‘stick’.
This week we find Paul has returned to Jerusalem to face an angry mob of Pharisees. They aren’t happy with his teaching to the Gentiles. How dare he teach that people are saved by grace, not by their works. Ironically, this enraged crowd shared the same beliefs that Paul held before he met Jesus on the Road to Damascus.
Paul was a rare character for the time — a devout Jew and a Roman citizen. We are able to see Paul’s unique background serve as a means to allow him to point others towards God. In this chapter, Paul implores his captors to allow him to speak to "his people" to tell his story.
We see that Paul doesn’t provide a theological or intellectual defense, but rather shares his personal story with this religious group he understood all too well. He wanted to share how, on the way to persecute Christians, God broke into his life and pardoned him. He wanted to share his story of grace and conversion.
Paul knew he was to share Christ’s story. He left the rest to God. Paul knew the general plan, but like us, Paul didn’t know how it would all work out. He had to trust God – just like you and I have to do.
Acts 22, reminded me of two specific small group encounters related to "stories."
The first was a lay servant class that I took to learn how to tell stories. To this day I can remember almost every story told by my fellow classmates. Their stories enlarged my heart towards them as I heard their personal stories of God’s grace in the context of their lives. The power of those stories, that pointed to God, impact me to this day! Many of my connections with that group continue years later.
The second was a scrapbooking small group entitled “This Is My Story” by Lisa Whelchel. The study highlighted Joel 1:3 “Tell it to your children, and have your children tell their children, and their children tell their children.” I discovered the study soon after reading words written by my grandmother about her faith story which allowed me to connect with her in new ways. Our small group gathered weekly, read scripture, pondered questions, and shared our stories – our testimonies. Ironically, I had known some of these women for years, but in most cases had not really heard their stories. As a group, we left our "modern-day quilting bee" with journaling, photos, a written legacy of faith and greater confidence in the power of story.
We all have a story to tell. Like Paul, you and I are called to share our stories and point others to God. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” In Psalms 105.1 the psalmist instructs “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.”
This week I hope you will ask yourself these questions:
Big Daddy Weave‘s refrain in “My Story” says it well……
- Who took time to share their story with you and remind you of God’s faithfulness and grace?
- What “deeds” does God want you to make known?
- Are you prepared to give the reason for your hope?
- What barriers and obstacles are keeping you from sharing your story?
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.
When we first embarked on reading Acts together, Bishop Sue asked a question. “Aren’t we to make sure that the gospel story continues to the next generations?”
After all, everyone loves a good story!
Dawn Townsend is an Associate Conference Lay Leader in the North Georgia Conference.