[This Jewish false prophet] was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.Acts 13:7-8
As Paul and his companions launch out on mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, their first experience serves to remind us all about what Christian mission – and Christian living – involves.
1. The Christian Life is one of hopeful mission.
Living with Christ, for Christ, on mission is FULL OF HOPE!
Barnabus, Saul, and their company have every reason to begin this mission with all hope and expectation. They are about to launch out on a mission clearly prompted by the Holy Spirit and led by godly men.
The personnel is qualified, the mission is anointed, and the strategy seems sound. Not only that, the destination is amazing. Cyprus is like Hawaii or the Bahamas of the Mediterranean, who wouldn’t want to be called to this rich land and luxurious island?
But there’s more. While the is legitimate hope and right expectation… this life is also hard.
2. The Christian Life is a life of hard opposition.
We don’t know how successful their 90-mile trip across the island was, but we do know things got hard in the capital. As they enjoy an invitation from the proconsul to share the gospel of Christ, the proconcul’s oracle, a Jewish magician (a walking oxymoron) seeks to frustrate their message and sabotage their mission.
Spiritual warfare is not a figurative term, and it is not the make-believe fictional writers. Spiritual warfare is very real and we must not allow sensationalized imaginations rob us it’s seriousness and reality.
Spiritual warfare, at its core is any OPPOSITION to the gospel. And, make no mistake, the world is at was over the gospel. The gospel faces perpetual opposition because people resist giving up power and influence and privilege. To labor for the gospel is to enter into spiritual battle.
The challenge, therefore, it to hold onto hope and promise, while avoiding disillusionment.
(John Mark – v.13)
Finally, we recognize that hope and promise must be maintained and the battle is worth it because…
3. The Christian Life of joy & fruitfulness.
Paul’s life & ministry give evidence of the the joy and fruitfulness available to Christ’s Gospel-people. Foloow Paul in Acts and read the letters he writes and you will witness the relationships he makes, the lives that are changed, and the joy that he experiences even in hardship.
We have been sent out at His people, to bear His image and if we take our task seriously, we will encounter opposition. At the same time, when we choose to embrace His calling, step out in faith, and pursue mission… we will experience amazing wonder and joy.
We could avoid suffering… just live on the fringe, accept mediocrity, react reasonably and rationally. We could avoid the challenge of holiness, remain content with a little knowledge of God, and not commit fully to a life on mission. But then we also sacrifice joy, adventure, fulfillment, wonder, and a deeper knowledge of our Savior.
Dwight L. Moody is quoted saying, “Do not fear failure; fear succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
Failure does not need to keep us from engaging in our gospel calling — living our faith boldly and sharing the gospel intentionally. We have everything we need to be faithful and fruitful. The proconsul believed did not believe because a super-believer performed some supr-act. He beleived because “he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” (v.12)
Paul and his team overcome opposition by the Spirit and the Word. We have these same resources at our disposal. So let’s trust God’s Word to shape our lives and guide our ministry and reveal our calling.