Sunday, February 20, 2011

Earning Credibility

Acts 9:28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

28 καὶ ἦν μετ᾽ αὐτῶν εἰσπορευόμενος καὶ ἐκπορευόμενος εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, παρρησιαζόμενος ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου,

Paul had a pretty rough time fitting in with the disciples at first. After all, he actively persecuted them and did everything he could to stop the church. After his conversion he was as excited about helping the church as he previously was to persecute it. The problem is, the church wasn't sure what to make of him.

I don't think that we can blame them for this. In fact, it seems wise to have a season of watching before completely trusting someone. Anyone can call himself a Christian. How does he live? What does he say? Is there any evidence in his life of God's work? Or is he simply one in name only?

Paul did prove himself. He had Barnabas' endorsement, which was obviously very important. After this verse we learn that he debated with the Hellenists, who were the Greek-speaking Jews. It soon became clear to the church that he was for real. I suppose he could have done a big double agent turnaround, but of course he really was converted. The church eventually trusted him.

I think that there is a lesson in this for us as members of churches. We should probably not be too quick to give anyone any kind of teaching authority. Someone's current passion does not always translate into long-term consistency. Just as an elder should not be a recent convert I think that anyone who teaches or has any kind of authority in the church should go through something of a vetting period. That will not prevent every problem, but it will certainly eliminate many problems before they start.

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