Acts 28:24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.
What strikes me about this short verse is the difference between those who believed and those who didn’t believe Paul’s Gospel of the Kingdom. Their background was essentially identical, as devout Jews living in Rome, but some chose to believe and some chose not to believe. (The Japanese doesn’t say “were convinced,” but simply “believed.”) Faith, and the salvation that results, is ultimately a choice, and God doesn’t force us. That is an essential thing to remember for anyone involved in evangelism. We are saved by grace through faith, and that faith is a gift, (Ephesians 2:8-9) but we have to choose to receive that gift. These people all had equal opportunity hearing what Paul had to say, but some chose to receive faith and some chose not to receive. That reality can be heartbreaking for those sharing the Gospel, but we have to release each situation, and each person, into God’s hands. Sometimes something that is said lies dormant like a seed, and only later sprouts and bears fruit. We are never to stop scattering the seed! We should also be encouraged by stories like this. After all, if Paul had uneven results, who are we to expect better?
This is, naturally enough, extremely appropriate for me to remember. Japan is certainly famous for uneven results! There have been, and are, magnificent Japanese Christians, but the statistical probability of a Japanese accepting and living out the Gospel is one of the lowest in the world. The reasons for that have been widely discussed and debated, but it all boils down to this: we don’t know! I am to be faithful to share, always seeking the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit so as to do it as effectively as possible, but the results aren’t up to me. There is no evangelism “technique” that has proven results. Today we will be having an evangelistic program and barbecue, hoping to share Christ with our neighbors, but we can’t force them to take part, much less repent and believe. What we can do is be open to the Holy Spirit, loving God and loving the people around us, and allow Him to bring the fruit that He desires.
Father, thank You for this reminder at the beginning of a very full day. Help me not be uptight about anything, but rest, relax, and rejoice in You, just as You have told me to do. I have a track record of being snappy at others when I feel stressed. I ask You to keep me from that. It would be nice if I didn’t feel stressed, but that’s not the issue! Help me be an accurate reflection of my Lord Jesus, drawing people to Him by Your love, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!