2020 Vision – Part 2
If you had 5 years to make a measurable, discernible impact on a city for Christ, what would you do? Where would you begin? How would you know if you were accomplishing what God sent you there to do?
In Acts 18, a group of Christians had 18 months–not 5 years. Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul arrived in Corinth under different circumstances. Priscilla and Aquila were forced to go because Claudius kicked Jewish people out of Rome. Paul arrived on a mission from God after an unsuccessful venture in Athens. Corinth was a sports-crazed city. Home to the Greek Isthmian games, they were regionally famous for their own version of the “Downtown Getdown” and stadium events that drew thousands to worship the Greek gods and their champions. Seems like a perfect place for God to move, doesn’t it?
Things didn’t go as quickly or as easily as they planned. Paul found himself arguing with the local synagogue and only gained a foothold in the city because of Titius Justus’s household church. After spending time with these believers, the “three amigos” traveled to Ephesus. Priscilla discipled a young evangelist named Apollos. He was all sizzle and no substance until Priscilla and Aquila introduced Apollos to Jesus’s baptism. From there, Apollos requested to be sent as a missionary from Ephesus to Corinth to continue the work that Paul started.
What happened in just a short while? I think there were five things that came out of the brief time Paul spent in Corinth.
- Faithful discipleship
All of them learned that disciples bore the same fruit of the spirit that Paul challenged the Galatians to show. If they were going to reach Gentiles, then their actions, lives, and beliefs would need to match. No Sunday-only Christians were permitted. This would be a lifestyle. They did not start a few programs that were handled by Timothy and Silas. Each person played a part in growing their faith.
- Strong homes
As Justus’s household showed, the church moved because the Spirit worked in their homes. He fit a pattern from the Philippian jailer and Lydia in Acts 16. When God shows up, dad, mom, and even the letter carrier get saved. Even Jewish people like the synagogue ruler Crispus, who was initially resistant to Paul, converted to Christ along with his household.
- Connected church
The Corinthians were notorious for their disagreement. But Paul would have never written them had the Spirit not been alive and well. He called them to connect together through their spiritual gifts used to build up the body. In 1 Corinthians 12, we read about the ones they needed, the greatest of which was love (1 Corinthians 13). By networking in relationship, communicating with each other, and sharing the gospel, they unified.
- Transformed city
Corinth obviously needed the gospel, or Paul would have never arrived there in the first place. God’s work usually shows up where people need it the most. This movement that began with an 18-month process transformed the city of Corinth and extended to Ephesus. People naturally wanted to go other places, others like Apollos were drawn there to be a part of God’s work as a result of the discipleship that happened in Corinth. Some of that transformation involved suffering for their faith. God appeared to Paul in a vision and reminded him that there were many other people already in that city. They worked with other people of faith so that God’s work could expand and continue. By working with Gentiles, Jewish people like Aquila and Priscilla crossed racial and ethnic lines so that many could come to know the Lord.
- Servant leaders
None of this would have taken place without servant leaders. Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila had to teach Apollos something about the gospel. As Peter predicted in Acts 2, the Spirit gave men and women gifts to use; and they used them to lead others to Christ. They taught Apollos to say, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” We can’t be about the Father’s work when we’re focused on fame. We share this ministry together because we want Jesus to be glorified.
If the Spirit of God could move in just 18 months in a sports-crazed city with a few tentmakers, imagine what God could do in us if we were to fulfill this calling in Tallahassee. How long would you need? 5 years? A lifetime? See the vision.