QOTD: Acts for Christians Today
Something to think about when reading Acts…
They (Christians) can learn patience and faithfulness in mission in the midst of a world they do not control. The strong experience of resistance and rejection in Acts results in a necessary tempering of the mission. Peter and Paul are meant to impress us as powerful persons, but they are not all-powerful. The imprisonment of Paul is a particularly vivid indication of strong social limitations on the mission, and this imprisonment persists to the end of Acts. It does not change Paul’s dedication to his task, as the final verses of Acts indicate, but Paul must learn to work within limits. He does so while maintaining trust in the purpose he is serving and in God’s power to reach the ultimate goal. Such trust is supported by a perception of God as a God of surprises, indeed, a God who works by irony, who can use even opponents of the mission to move the divine purpose forward. The mission must work within limits, yet God repeatedly breaks out of these limits in ways that surprise both the church and its critics. Faithfully serving in mission while trusting in a God whose exact moves cannot be anticipated is part of the ongoing struggle of faith. The resulting life of service is a lesson in which we are repeatedly taught to push back our limited views of how God may act and whom God may use for the divine purpose. The church must be confident that it has a valid and important mission, as Peter and Paul are in Acts, yet it must recognize that God has other and surprising ways of working.
Tannehill, Robert C. The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: The Acts of the Apostles. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989.