Acts 22:2-5 (ESV)
And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
Paul is supposed to be giving a defense against a charge and this beginning sounds like one. The tribune thought he was some Egyptian troublemaker. This speech begins by proving, in rather dramatic fashion, that he’s not.
But though this starts out looking like a defense, and a good one at that, that’s not really what Paul’s doing. Defending himself against the charge is not his objective; evangelism is. Paul will go on to detail how he became a Christian.
This is a sermon.
Great saints never lose focus on the job of glorifying God. Paul’s calling was evangelism, so everything he did was, first and foremost, evangelism. Many of the great saints were also called to evangelize or preach, thus they did this to an amazing extent when they “should” have been doing something else.
The calling of every Christian is to be a Christian 24/7, which means never losing focus on your calling. But it’s a mistake to assume that your calling must be evangelism. Many churches teach that your calling isn’t just evangelism; it’s the confession stage of evangelism. Preparing the soil is given short shrift.
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. – 1 Corinthians 12:20–26 (ESV)
Most Christians are called to glorify God through charity and other ways of loving people. That can be interpreted as preparing the soil.
It glorifies God no matter how you interpret it.
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: