It’s Acts 26:9-20 today.
I remember one Sunday night in my late teens. I had been to Church and after the service along with two friends; I went to a Curry House in Cardiff. It was a regular thing. My two friends were in a similar position to me in that they had parents who were Christians but were themselves much more interested in all of the stuff that teenagers get up to than in faith in God. In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, the son leaves home to go to a far country but I’ve heard it said that sometimes you can still be at home but your heart can be in a far country. That was certainly my experience; I went to Church and the youth group (I’m sure the leaders would have found it easier if I hadn’t but they were gracious enough not to say), I read the Bible daily but no one where I worked knew any of this and how could they; I was just like everyone else. The conversation over the meal would normally centre on girls and cars etc but this time I distinctly remember one of them saying; ‘I suppose it’s all true; this stuff about God and Jesus.’ I was stunned, this wasn’t what we talked about and I didn’t know what to say. My other friend thought for a while and said; ‘I suppose it is but I can’t live like that.’ The conversation moved on, one of the guys had foolishly instructed the waiter to ‘make sure his curry was hot’ and of course it was so hot it was inedible. He refused to admit defeat as he pushed around his plate much to our amusement. But that night I couldn’t sleep; was it true? I realised that I was certain it was true. God did love me, he had sent Jesus who had died in my place but that meant my life made no sense. Why would I know something was true and yet live pretending it wasn’t? A few weeks later I gave my life to Christ.
This would have been a good opportunity for Paul to declare his innocence but of course, for Paul, it was a chance to share the good news of Jesus. Just a few things;
- Paul did not consider that Festus was too far back to hear the Gospel. It’s something that we say quite often – ‘they are not sure if they believe in God, how can we tell them about sin and Jesus?’ For Paul it was ‘ how can they hear without someone preaching to them?’ (Romans 10:14).
- Paul did not consider Agrippa and Bernice to be too sinful to hear the Gospel. He believed that God’s grace was enough to save the vilest of sinners.
- He told his own story; how he came to have faith in Christ. There were lots of things that he could have said; he could have talked about the growth of Christianity or the miracles he had performed through the power of God but he shared his story.
- He made it clear that Jesus was alive. He had spoken to Paul. He suffered with his people and he called sinners into a relationship with himself.
I started today by sharing something of my own story. I’m not a great apostle like Paul but like him I am a sinner saved by grace and I have a story, a testimony. What is your story? Do you share it? Paul could have preached a great sermon but he chose to share from his own experience of how Jesus had changed him and if it was good enough for him then it should be good enough for us. Perhaps you do not have a story, maybe you cannot remember a time when you gave your life to Christ. If that is the case then Jesus is probably calling you right now. He can call out loud as with Paul, or through the words of a friend who isn’t even a Christian as he did with me or even through some Bible reading notes. If you need further information please ask a Christian; they will be thrilled to point you to Jesus.
I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea. (I will sing the Wondrous Story – Francis H Rowley)