Last week our family got a new sofa for our living room. So Michelle and I carried the old sofa out to our front lawn and put a “Free” sign on it. We were hoping someone could use it, and also save us the trouble and expense of discarding it.
We watched what appeared to be storm clouds on the horizon. I checked the radar, concerned that the sofa was going to be soaked. Thankfully, the rain held off. Friday night passed, and the sofa remained on the front lawn.
We pretty much mow our lawn every Saturday, so I was hoping that there would be a taker before we mowed to the point of needing to move the sofa for mowing. We started mowing Saturday afternoon, and still the sofa remained. My daughter mowed half of the yard, and since my son is away on a mission trip, I started mowing his part, row by row, each row closer and closer to the front lawn. As I got within three rows of the sofa, I was ready to move it out of the way, when a pickup truck pulled into the neighbor’s driveway right next to where the sofa sat. The driver was a young man, and he hopped out saying that he was interested in the sofa!
I helped him load it into his truck, and afterward he looked at me and asked me my name. I responded, then asked him his name, and where he lived. He said he had recently moved nearby. I thanked him for taking the sofa. Then we said goodbye. That was it.
It was a typical friendly interaction between strangers. I went back to the mower and finished up the lawn, but my conversation with the young man didn’t sit well with me. On the one hand, Michelle and I were super thankful that the young man picked up the sofa. On the other hand, I felt an unsettledness about the conversation. Do you know why?
I felt unsettled because everything I told you about the conversation was all there was to it. I wondered if I missed an opportunity. I felt that I should have been viewing that conversation differently, as a chance to tell a story, or to learn his. But I didn’t do that. I could have done more. I’m not suggesting that I should have started preaching right there on my front lawn. But I could have done more. I could have asked more about where he was from, why he moved here, and offered to help make community connections if needed. There’s a number of ways I could have expressed the love of Christ beyond helping the guy load the sofa and saying “Thanks” for taking it.
What about you? How ready are you to tell the story of how Jesus has worked in your life? Does it make you nervous thinking about telling the story? How often do you tell the story? And what is the story anyway?
As we continue our study today through Acts, I believe we’re going to see a principle that can help us grow as story-tellers for Jesus.
Two weeks ago, we concluded chapter 21 with a bit of a cliffhanger (first of five posts on Acts 21 here). After his third missionary journey, Paul returned to Jerusalem, very much against the wishes of his friends. Everything was pointing to impending doom if he would set foot in Jerusalem. Which is exactly what happened. The Jews there accused him of the crimes of false teaching and defiling the temple, neither of which he committed. Paul certainly was teaching that Jesus was the messiah, the savior of the world, which the Jews disagreed with, so in their minds he was a false teacher, which to them was a crime. Paul believed, however, that he was teaching the truth.
So right there on the temple grounds, the Jews grab Paul and start beating him, causing an uproar in the city. The Romans hear about it and arrive just in time to intervene before the Jews kill Paul. Paul asks the Romans for permission to speak to the crowd, and that’s where chapter 22 picks up the story just outside the Roman soldiers’ barracks. All around him, the crowd of Jews is hostile and loud, and the Roman commander has rescued Paul and is about to bring Paul into the soldiers’ barracks just to keep him safe. After receiving permission to speak to the crowd, Paul stands on the steps, which would have likely given him a good view of the crowd. He motions for them to listen, which actually works to quiet them, and he begins speaking in Aramaic, which is the common language of the Jewish people. In the next post, we’ll learn what Paul says to the crowd.