When my audience doesn’t respond, worse, when they get hostile about what I’m trying to get across, it generates in me all kinds of introspection. I didn’t pay enough attention to where my audience was coming from. I raised an issue that should have been avoided. My choice of words could’ve been better. If only I had closed differently.
In some situations all this self-evaluation in the face of rejection is needed, but there are other situations where the message is true, the pedagogy spot on, and the audience got the message loud and clear. But they chose to reject it.
As we learned when Paul delivered his lecture at the University of Athens on Mars Hill, he was a genius at adapting his approach to the different audiences he addressed, but the fact that he was a gifted teacher didn’t mean that he always got a positive response from his audience.
Paul didn’t allow rejection in his audience to silence his proclamation of truth like—Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. In synagogue after synagogue he argued his case from the Jewish Scriptures. Some believed. Some delayed, and others threw him out of the auditorium, but Paul simply moves to another venue and keeps right on telling the truth. And we can check out whose side God is on by reading this report on his ministry in the Corinthian synagogue.
“When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul began to be devoted to the Word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. When they resisted and maligned him, he shook out his clothes and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I’m free from guilt. Now I’ll go to the Gentiles.’ And leaving the synagogue, he went next door to the home of Titius Justus, a man who worshiped God. But Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household; and many of the Corinthians when they heard this believed and were baptized.
Now in the night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, ‘Don’t fear, but keep speaking and don’t be silent; for I am with you and no man will lay a hand on you to harm you; for I have many people in this city.’ So he settled there for a year and six months, teaching God’s Word among them.” Acts 18:5-11
The rejection of his message by the majority of the Jews in the synagogue didn’t silence Paul. He simply moved next door and kept right on dialoguing about the truth found in Jesus alone. And God reminded him that He had his back. No need to be afraid.
LORD, again you are reminding me from the example of Paul that I can’t stop trying to persuade others that Jesus is the Messiah, the final Judge, the One who decides all of our destinies. Thanks for continuing to show Mary and me that you still have many who will respond to the truth about Your Son.
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