Thought for the Day by Katharine Salmon (St Chad’s)
Reflection on the missional leadership in Acts
Acts gives us a glimpse of the challenges faced by the earliest missionaries proclaiming the gospel in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world. The words and deeds of Jesus’ disciples could easily be misunderstood by people with a wholly different set of values.
In Acts we see evidence that there were many wandering wonder-workers in the ancient world. In Samaria, for instance, Philip, Peter, and John encounter a magician named Simon who amazed the people with his magic and whom people believed to have divine power (8:9-11). When Simon sees the Holy Spirit given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offers them money to purchase this gift, earning a sharp rebuke from Peter (8:17-24).
Acts draws a stark contrast between the authentic leadership of apostles and missionaries commissioned by the church and the dubious undertakings of other prophets, magicians, and wonder-workers. Jesus’ disciples are not motivated by personal gain of wealth, power, or status. Indeed, they put themselves at great risk and endure persecution for the sake of the gospel. They know that they cannot control or manipulate the gift of the Holy Spirit, but trust the Spirit to work through them as God sees fit. Their ministries do not draw attention to themselves, but point to the good news of God’s kingdom drawing near in Jesus Christ.
We live in a diverse and pluralistic society with many people who have different values. How do we live in a way that shows that the Christian way is different?