Offensive Love

Thursday , 23, February 2017 Leave a comment

Offensive Love

In the 26th chapter of Acts, Paul is finally given the opportunity to defend himself before Governor Festus, King Agrippa, Queen Bernice, and the large crowd of “important” people who had gathered to hear Paul speak.  They were waiting to hear Paul defend himself against the array of charges and accusations that had been brought against him during the previous two years.

If Paul would have approached this situation in a “normal” fashion, he would have tried one of two defensive strategies.  He could have mounted a defense based on the unsubstantiated and frivolous nature of the charges, using logic and eloquence as a speaker to dismantle the accusations and prove himself innocent.  Second, Paul could have thrown himself on the mercy of the court, trusting in their ability to spot the true nature of the accusations, and resting on his stature as a Roman Citizen.

Paul chose to do neither.  Paul chose to not defend himself.  Rather, Paul went on the offensive—preaching the gospel to all assembled, while effectively putting King Agrippa and the crowd on trial…  Paul, a prisoner for over two years, falsely accused and in jail because it appeased the religious authorities and because Paul would not pay a bribe—preached a sermon that day—rather than cry out for justice or mercy…

This is an amazing picture for us of what true Christian maturity looks like—when a person is so consumed with and transformed by the Presence of Jesus in their lives that they place sharing the truth of His Good News above their own comfort, reputation, and even life itself.

I would love to tell you I have reached this level of maturity—where sharing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit is more important to me than anything else—including my life, reputation, comfort, or security.  Unfortunately, I am not quite there…, yet.

But—just as in Paul’s case—life in Christ has a way of growing us up.  As Christians, worldly attacks and Holy Spirit rescues work together to take us from the defensive to the offensive—from defending our own flesh to declaring the majesty and glory of our King.

Did Paul’s “strategy” work?  Well, in terms of getting out of prison, the answer is “no.”  Paul remained a prisoner of Rome for the faith most of the rest of his life—which ended when his head was removed by a Roman executioner…

What about the crowd?  What about King Agrippa and Queen Bernice?  We have no concrete evidence concerning their salvation, but we can certainly stand on the fact that when the Word is preached, the Spirit brings a harvest.  I am CERTAIN that we will meet in heaven folks from the crowd—perhaps even a Governor or King, because their hearts were made alive that day as Paul preached on the offensive…

LOVE calls us to go on the offensive to share the gospel—rather than the defensive to save our necks.  Offensive love is mature and selfless love.  Offensive love overcomes Evil not only by “the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of testimony,” but supremely by “not loving our lives, even unto death (see Revelation 12).

My prayer is that we would all grow up together as a congregation to the place where we really could not care less what people say or think about us; rather, we would love offensively—sharing the truth and testimony of Jesus instead of rushing to defend ourselves against the accusers and their accusations…

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