12-Steps in a Bar
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Acts 17:10
If I went to a bar on a busy night and tried to talk people into an AA meeting and working the 12-steps, I imagine it wouldn’t go over well. Not everyone in a bar needs AA of course, but those who do probably wouldn’t be in a state of mind to accept it while actively drinking. It’s likely that this audience would vigorously reject the message of recovery.
Alternatively, if I went to a nursing home with the same message, I’d likely have a captive audience, but I probably just wouldn’t have much of an impact. So, I choose to take the message to places where I think there are those who need it, who are seeking it, and who will be receptive to it.
This is simply practical, and I think it was Paul’s model as well. In today’s passage, we’re told how Paul was chased out of the Thessalonica synagogue by unbelieving Jews. So, he fled to Berea, where he again, went to the synagogue, engaging with those who sought God. Everyone who met Paul heard the gospel at least once, having a chance to accept or reject it for themselves. When the gospel was rejected, he moved on. When the gospel was accepted, he stayed for a while.
Many of us feel like we should be sharing our faith and reaching out in love to those around us. We don’t though, because we’re afraid of being seen as a religious nut or of being rejected. We don’t need to be Paul, but still, we could learn a few things from him. First, we must boldly choose to obey God. Then, we must accept that it’s OK if we’re rejected. It would be helpful though, if we went, like Paul, to places where there are those who will listen.
In clinic, I meet those who obviously need recovery but have no interest. In jail or treatment centers though, I have yet to meet someone who is unwilling to talk about faith and recovery. So, I’ve learned to share the message with anyone, but to focus on those who will hear it.
If you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone and obey God, then do it. Go to a food pantry. Volunteer at a jail. Help out at your church. Go strategically, like Paul, to those places where there are those seeking help. In your obedience, you will do great things, but in obeying, you will also find dramatic spiritual growth and transformation for yourself.