Approach is Everything

Message:  In Acts 18 Paul left Athens and went to Corinth where he met Aquila and Priscilla, a couple who ended up in Corinth after the Jews were ordered to leave Rome. The scriptures don’t go into detail about their beliefs about Jesus. It only tells us they were Jews. They were tentmakers by trade and so was Paul so they worked together. I guess this means we could call them “coworkers”. There is no detail about Paul teaching them or mentoring them. It just tells us that he worked as a tentmaker and when he wasn’t working he went to the synagogues to reason with the Jews. Paul always seemed to feel pulled towards the Jews first. He went through the scriptures and the prophesies to point out everything they had pointing to the Messiah, but when they refused to accept that Jesus was the Messiah he shook his robe and told them their blood was on their own heads and moved on to the gentiles. Something I often forget is that there were many God-fearing gentiles. They weren’t Jews so they weren’t part of God’s special chosen promised people, but they were following God. Paul always seemed to find those people first and bring clarity and order to what they knew. If they were Jews he pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, if they were gentiles he taught them about the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus and how it brought them in. He was reaching people by starting with the common ground and connecting the dots. I noticed that in chapter 17 he used this same approach with the stoics and philosophers in Greece. He started with the common ground “I see you are very religious” and he used that as a way to relate to them and open the conversation. Those people were idolators who were far from God but he didn’t come at them accusationally. He used it as an advantage. He even used one of the idols they had named the “unknown God” to tell them that he knew who that unknown God was. How clever of Paul! Because of this they listened to him for days as he explained who God is and what he had done. At the end of chapter 18 a Jewish man named Apollos rolled into town. He spoke clearly and eloquently about the gospel but he was missing the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He only knew of the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla took him into their home and laid it out clearly for Apollos. There is no mention of Paul being involved here at all and as I mentioned earlier, there is no mention that Paul taught them. The assumption is speculated that Paul probably had these conversations with them as they worked together on a daily basis making tents. This is what Paul did everywhere he went so as more people knew the clear truth of the gospel they began to teach others. This is what discipleship is all about and this is the example laid out before us. Find the common ground with people and build on that. I think we make this more difficult than it has to be or we approach people from a “you are wrong and let me tell you why” attitude. This does not win people it divides them. Paul in no way compromised the truth of the gospel. He told it like it was but he always began with a common ground and used that to build a bridge to the truth. As Christians we can learn a lot from Paul and ask God to show us how to approach people.

Leave a Reply