Author: Alex Mize // Open Table // Junior
Scripture: Acts 17
Passion can often be the x-factor between a simple movement and a monumental, historically transformative movement. A leader with passion is one that can unite crowds in a variety of contexts just because they have gumption that conveys true emotion. An apathetic leader appears as just that, apathetic, and will find great difficulty in uniting anyone behind anything. There are many passionate leaders in Acts that could unite many groups of people regardless of how far they truly were from each other. There’s one leader that sticks out to me, due to his presence in the many letters of the New Testament, the content of those letters that often puzzles me and can get me quite angry, and his character arc. Paul’s positive attributes represent some of the best parts of the Christian faith. Acts 17 highlights so much of that for me.
Acts 17 gives a great comparison to the kinds of places Paul goes to and has to deal with. On one end of the spectrum you’ve got Berea, a people that is honestly pretty eager to learn about Christianity. Somewhere in the middle you’ve got the people of Athens, ones who are all about debate, information, and learning, but have their faith placed in the wrong places entirely. And then, you’ve got Thessalonica, who are actively against the Christian faith, eventually forming a riot against Paul. Paul, at this point, had been doing a lot of good work and will continue to do more following this. The way Luke uses these three locations as a means of comparison of the success of Paul’s work, however, makes the content of this chapter important, and not just a passing narrative. It also very clearly shows Paul’s leadership capabilities. He was able to persuade many Jews and Greeks in both Thessalonica and Berea to join him, he was able to address the Athenian council and why they should believe in the God he believes in which led to some of the stubborn Athenians joining him as well, and he had the support of his believers to help escort him between locations in avoidance of the Thessalonian mob.
There is no way an apathetic leader would be able to do all or any of that. That requires passion, for sure, but it also requires energy. If you have been to a Tuesday night Wesley Worship, you are well aware of the energy of the room and the energy that each person emits. One person there, I can confirm, is usually lacking in the energy department: me. It’s not that I do not have it, it is just that when comparing me and many others at Wesley, I am a little bit chiller. Is that good? In many contexts, sure. That lack of energy, however, is not well-suited for propelling a movement such as Christianity, something I already have a great passion for. Luke’s writings of Paul show how passion connected with energy can lead believers to come to your defense in times of turmoil and lead to unification beyond all measure. It takes passion AND energy in order to propel a movement forward, especially one with the impact Christianity has.
How are you going to employ passion and energy into your faith this week?