The life of Paul as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles is the stuff that movies are made of! You have the whole Damascus Road experience and the renewal of sight when a sworn enemy prays over Paul, the unknown years that follow as Paul becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ and then off to worlds (almost unknown) to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. His travels are filled with peril. He is imprisoned and beaten and ridden out of some towns on the rail that I have often heard of. I suppose tar and feathers might have been used if they had thought about it, but through it all Paul remains steadfast in his faith and his resolve to serve the Christ who saved him from his own sinful and prideful depravity. He is faithful all the way to Rome and to the martyrdom that would await him. But on the way to Rome he builds the church, actually many churches in places like Philippi, Corinth, Antioch, Iconium, Athens and many, many more. He opens the door of the church to gentiles; folks like you and me. Until Paul the church had only been filled by converted Jews. Every time I read the story I am grateful to Paul because the church and all its blessedness has been made available to me.
I wonder who will discover the marvelously blessed creation of Christ Jesus that we call the church because of our faithfulness? Will our witness be steadfast and faithful? Will we be true to the missionary spirit that lives in each of us who call ourselves Christian because we have been inhabited by the Holy Spirit? We are unlikely to experience jail or beatings or significant harassment because we speak the name of Jesus; so what keeps us from telling the world the good news that God has come to restore us to relationship with the one who can forgive our sins and make a way for us to inherit eternal life?
In this season of Thanksgiving, Advent and the coming Christmas; many will have a new thought about what this story of a virgin birth is really about. Will you be ready to offer an answer? Will I? Reading the Acts of the Apostles reminds me that we are made able, through the power of Jesus, to do wonderfully miraculous things. My prayer is that we will be faithful to the one who has marked us with his grace and his love and that the gates of hell will be forced to retreat because the power of God's love at Christmas long ago grows stronger in the testimony of our lives.