Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 50 | Acts 26
Acts 26 Reflections and Questions
By Rev. Sam Halverson
Can you imagine what it would be like to experience a conversion like Paul's?
In Acts 26 we find Paul giving his testimony to King Agrippa and others present. It is not only a truly amazing account, it is also a wonderful opportunity Paul is given — to tell of his personal encounter with the risen Jesus to so many who had great influence on Rome and the world. Scribes and advisers, guards, military tribunes, prominent men of the city, as well as the king and his wife all would hear the marvelous story of Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus. If you have not done so yet today, stop for a moment and read the 26th chapter of Acts, and as you read imagine yourself being in the court of the king and hearing this account for the first time. Listen for the passion and awe in Paul’s voice as he tells of his conversion.
Now think of your own encounters with Jesus. For most (if not all) of us these are nothing like Paul’s experience. You may never meet someone who not only saw Jesus in blinding light but heard him give a quest like this one. Let me assure you, though, each of us who has been called to follow Christ has no less important a story to tell.
Telling the story of how you came to faith (your testimony) is an important and vital part of who you are and how God uses you. If you believe God had any part of bringing you to your faith then such an account must be shared with others. It is, after all, a story of something God has done, and anything we know God has done in our lives must not be kept hidden but should be proclaimed to others. Telling your story glorifies God; telling your story brings others to consider what God is doing in their lives; and when others in the faith community hear your testimony it strengthens their own faith as they hear how God uses them in discipleship.
The opportunities you and I have in telling others how we came to faith are also no less important than Paul’s. While Paul did get to speak to those who held great influence Caesarea and throughout the Roman empire, God uses you in settings where your story can also have great effect. We do not know how God will use our faith stories. Perhaps what seems like a normal, no-frills testimony is just what someone needs to hear when they consider the ways God is calling them; perhaps your story is the one God uses to plant seeds that one day will provide fruitfulness for thousands of others. God uses your story.
Throughout this coming week think about your own call to faith and look for opportunities for God to use your story in bringing others to a better understanding of what God is doing in the world.
Rev. Sam Halverson is associate director of the Center for Congregational Excellence with a focus on youth and young adult ministry.
- Take some time to actually write out your own faith story. What kinds of encounters led you to a decision to follow Christ? Who did God use to strengthen your faith? What were the moments when you “saw the light” of Christ? How long was your walk to Damascus and how did you meet Jesus on the way? If you take time to write it out you may learn something new about your encounters you had not recognized before.
- Once you have familiarized yourself with your testimony, consider the opportunities you have to tell others what has happened. How might God use your story? Pray for God to guide you in telling your story faithfully and humbly, taking care it is not heard as something judgmental or haughty. Ask God for guidance in knowing when and how to tell others what God is doing. Perhaps begin by sharing it with someone in your list of people who have had an impact on your faith.
- At the end of Chapter 26 King Agrippa told Festus, “This man [Paul] could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.” Yet Paul often speaks of how free he was even though he was imprisoned. Why do you think Paul would argue that the chance he is given to tell his story to the emperor is freedom? Are there things holding you back from feeling free to share what God is doing in and through you? What do you need in order to enjoy the freedom of telling others about God’s impact on your life and God’s actions in the world?
- In your prayers today ask God to illuminate your own struggles with being used for amazing signs and wonders. Ask God to use you as God continues to use the actions of the church in bringing God glory and continuing to transform the world.