I once had a neighbor who attended Emmanuel Faith and who really did a great job of reaching out to the unchurched who lived in his neighborhood. I’ll never forget one account he told me about a friend of his. My neighbor had spent months, and maybe even years, investing in friendship evangelism by attending parties thrown by this man, by inviting the dude to parties at his house, by casually chit-chatting, and by establishing a regular Saturday night dinner date where he and his wife would go out with the other guy and his wife, along with whoever else was available. (Now about this point you might be thinking, “That’s great, Scott, but where are you going with this, and how is it related to Acts 17:16-34?” That’s a great question! Let me show you…)
On one of the Saturdays that the couples were scheduled for dinner, EFCC had a Men’s Breakfast with a speaker and a gospel presentation. Because my friend had built up enough credibility with his unchurched neighbor (i.e. my neighbor had established that he wasn’t some religious weirdo but was indeed a normal person), the unchurched neighbor accepted the invitation to the breakfast. And so off they went at 7:30 in the morning for breakfast and a lecture (isn’t that how a lot of our unchurched friends think about sermons and messages?). The morning went off as planned, including the gospel invitation. As they were driving back home, my friend asked his neighbor what he thought about the gospel and the claims of Christ and salvation. Do you know what his neighbor said? Of course, you don’t! So I’ll tell you. He said, “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” To which my friend almost immediately replied, “So, where are we going for supper tonight?”
So why do I tell this story? Here’s why – We don’t all have Paul’s and Silas’s calling. If you look at Acts 18:1 you’ll see that he leaves the region after the gospel is rejected by the great majority of those who heard it. And if you look at Acts 18:5 you’ll see that Silas and Timothy joined him shortly thereafter. Unless you are a traveling evangelist, your calling is to stay and live around the people who reject the gospel when you share it with them or invite them to come to hear it shared at some event. (In fact, check out Acts 17:34. I wonder what life was like for Dionysius and Damaris and the others mentioned? Their calling, like my neighbor’s, was to continue with engagement among the rejectors.)
My question for us as we head into the weekend is this – How do we respond to gospel rejections? Do we give up on people and write them off? Or, like my neighbor, do we stay engaged and involved, recognizing that the journey from unbelief to belief is longer for some than for others? Unless you are planning to change jobs or move to a new neighborhood every time someone rejects your gospel presentation and invitation, this is something you have to give prayerful thought to. How will you handle rejection?
Hey, hope you have a great weekend! I’ll see you Sunday.
Connection and Growth Pastor