By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Acts 25-26
Key Scripture Verses: Acts 26:28-29 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’
Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’”
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, Paul took every opportunity to witness to others about Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts alone, we see that Paul tells his conversion story several times, telling of how he had gone from persecuting Christians to conversion to Christianity because of his direct encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. Our cited scripture readings depict yet another one of these times when Paul has been arrested and he is innocent of any wrongdoing, but the society around him wants to get rid of him and his constant preaching of Jesus.
Being a Roman Citizen, he appealed to Caesar to hear the charges against him, so Festus, the Roman governor, held him and reported this to King Agrippa who said he would like to hear him himself. Paul has just told Festus and Agrippa of his vision, saying, “’So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven,’” in which Jesus said to him, “’I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’” (Acts 26:17-18).
When Agrippa asks Paul if he is trying to convince him in such a short time to become a Christian, he is being snide; but, Paul responded with sincerity and without reacting to the tone of the comment. Paul simply showed how genuine his belief was and that he believed he needed to share this with anyone and everyone—that any who would hear and who might be moved enough to believe was his goal and his mission.
I am sure that Paul did not believe that everyone he spoke to would believe in Jesus, but he believed that he was called to preach and to send the message of Jesus’ love and resurrection to anyone who would listen. Paul was planting seeds.
In planting seeds of faith wherever he went, Paul knew that the Holy Spirit would do the rest. Just as Paul told his story and openly shared his faith, we are asked to do the same. Paul had already been arrested and he knew that telling his story might not release him; but even if he was to die a prisoner’s death, he had followed what Jesus had asked him to do and that is why he kept telling his story.
Just like Paul, we are not responsible for the conversion of others, but we are responsible for sowing the seeds of faith. Living as an example of our faith so that others can observe who we are and what we stand for is one way to plant those seeds. When we have opportunities to gently share the gospel and to help others understand why we do what we do and what we believe, we are planting those seeds.
If we are alert and open to the opportunities, we may realize that we have a lot of ways we can share our faith with others without a “holier than thou” attitude, without having to shove Bible tracts at people, without having to come across as judging and dismissive of others—that’s not how Jesus would have approached it and it is not how we are to approach sharing our faith. We are asked to be ourselves and to share openly and freely, but in a loving way, the message of our salvation.
Let us not be afraid to share our faith. May we ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and to show us when and how to share our love of Jesus with others and that those we share with have open, receptive hearts to the seeds we plant. May we ask the Holy Spirit to do the rest—to help those who do hear and receive the message to grow in faith.