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It’s Not About Sand Castles

July 28, 2011

If you find yourself spending a few days on the beach with small children, you realize fairly quickly that it is going to take some creativity to keep them entertained.  When the child’s ability to swim is limited by the availability of a life jacket, it’s really not swimming…it’s more…not dying.  And, if you happen to have a little boy in that situation…you end up building sand castles…a lot of sand castles.

 Take just a moment…if you will…and read through Acts 13:42-52.

 So back in verses 16-41, Paul and Barnabas preach a Christian sermon, on a Sabbath, in a Synagogue, by invitation…and get this…it’s well-received.  Seriously…the people beg them to come back “that these things might be told them the next Sabbath.”  Now, I’m not a vocational missionary (and just hold off on the “we’re all missionaries”…you know what I am talking about), but I think this goes down as a win.  Seriously…Paul’s writing about this day in his journal, they’re high-fiving, and Barnabas is tweeting about the amazing day with the tag…”#winning.”  And listen, not only did the people ask them to come back…they followed them around.  This is what happens when the Spirit moves…things happen that we don’t think are possible.

 Look at what happens in verse 44.  It says, “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.”  Now, I don’t think I can make too much out of this verse.  But, for all of the silliness that is “church” today, here we see that the people didn’t gather to hear the next great speaker…they didn’t gather to be entertained or simply amused…they gathered to hear the word of the Lord.  They were moved by it…they were captivated by it.  We can learn a lot from this.  Forget the gimmicks…forget the shock value…as believers let us gather to hear the word of the Lord. 

 Almost like clockwork, where the Gospel advances among the people…when the nations begin to see and hear…there is opposition.  And in this case, it comes from a source that should have been celebrating.  The parking lot was full…they were crammed into the pews…and the church leaders are jealous.  They aren’t angry…they’re jealous.  They’re jealous of the fact that the Spirit is moving and the Spirit is not moving as they saw fit.  We do this today…it’s wear a tie when you come in here…or wear designer jeans and graphic tee’s when you go in there.  We’re all guilty of making these demands…that people become like us…rather than like Jesus. 

 Okay…so back to my pathetic intro…the one about sand castles.  We build those things and then night after night the tide comes and washes them away…they never even had a real chance.  But then one morning, you walk back out on the beach to find that your sand fortress has survived the onslaught…it’s stood firm during the night…it’s endured (and your kid is ecstatic).  This is what we see from this church in Acts.  Despite the tide of opposition to the Gospel…against the forces of jealousy, and the desperation to hang on to power and the illusion of control…the Gospel advances.  But more importantly…people are saved.  Just as verse 48 says, “And as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”  Though they might chase us out of town…the Gospel advances.  At some point, we’re just going to have to have faith that the sand castle…the Church…isn’t just surviving…it’s being upheld…by the God of creation.  Even when that seems impossible

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