A Key Pauline Missions Strategy: Do Not Give Up on the Cities

Usually, disturbing the peace is a bad thing. When it comes to Colorado law, disturbing the law comes about by offensive or vulgar speech or gesture that can incite a breach of peace. Fights which aren’t sanctioned as an amateur or professional; and brandishing a weapon with the aim to harm or threaten to harm. Nothing can come from this.

But as we come to this passage, we see some of this. In verses 6 and 7, they accused Paul and Silas for turning “the world upside down” and “saying that there is another king, Jesus.” They were disturbing the societal peace (allegedly) but they were also accused of inciting revolt by proclaiming another king.

But notice–they disturbed the peace. But they disturbed their “peace” with the truth of God’s Word. Part of being and making disciples of Jesus is to disturb the personal ‘peace’ that a personal insurrection needs to take place. In our brokenness, we look for ways to find peace. In our brokenness, we are bowing our knee to a ‘ruler’ of our lives that will direct us.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, which rescues us from our sin and brokenness and toward God’s design and purpose, when fueled with the Word and prayer, can turn the world upside down.

Don’t give up on the cities

Michael Green that the apostle Paul “made for the centers from which the gospel could sound out into the surrounding area, as it did from Thessalonica and Ephesus.” Paul had a strategy of finding the cultural centers in Asia Minor, with a desire that came about later on from a commissioning he had from Christ Himself to speak in Rome.

Denver is a cultural center. All of our cities in the United States are cultural centers. What would happen, say, if we as followers of Jesus, as disciples of Jesus, would pray for and engage our city at every level? Many of you shared at one point that you grew up in rural areas. Some of you may wish to return to those areas where they may share your ideals and values. And especially when it seems that these cultural centers in our cities are passing legislation and going in a direction that is away from God’s design.

Paul also went to the synagogues first, as was his custom. As we will see here when Paul goes to Thessalonica, then to Berea, then to Athens, he would study the King’s edict (the Scriptures), but would also study the culture in which he would visit. His goal was to leave behind a gospel presence, that is, a plant, that is a church with elders in place to keep the gospel flame burning.

Cities are the cultural centers of our nation and our world. Tim Keller notes, “God designed the city with the power to draw out the resources of creation (of the natural order and the human soul) and thus to build civilisation.” Cities often attract different worldviews and backgrounds, and while these are great places in order to understand multiple worldviews and be a place of great influence, industry, education, and technology, this can also be a place where a lot of conflict can happen politically, job-wise, educationally, scientifically, and psychologically.

Keller insightfully notes,

“Reach the city to reach the culture. Protestant (evangelical) Christians are the least urban religious group and thus have the least impact culturally. Three kinds of people here affect the future: a) elites, b) new immigrants, c) the poor. The single most effective way for Christians to ‘reach’ the US would be for 25% of them to move to two or three of the largest cities and stay there for three generations.”

I bring this up because this was the strategy of the apostle Paul. He would strategize his missionary journeys (and, we should say, God opens the door) for Christians in general (and here, Paul specifically) to take the message of the gospel elsewhere.

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