Networking is a normal part of human life. If humanity had not given itself to the advice of the snake, we certainly would’ve been networking in the garden. Unfortunately that is not the case, and godless agendas can twist networking down unprofitable paths.
Over and over again, the people of God, the seed of Abraham, have networked for the wrong reasons. They had the Almighty’s assurance of protection, but in the face of danger they ran to Egypt for help (see Isaiah 30:1-7). In Jesus’ time, the leadership of Israel was making the same mistake. Afraid of Jesus’ power and popularity, they ran to Rome for their help, seeking their favor. This blending of Rome’s gracious favors led to Jesus’ death. Again, we saw today how the same earth-bound agendas almost led to grave ends. Paul in Acts 25:1-12 is in the same predicament. Surrounded my men serving the agenda of nation and culture, he is facing potential imprisonment and death.
Yet God had plans for Paul to go to Rome, so the story could not end there. Paul, the Jewish Christian, had received the Holy Spirit. Unlike most of the Jewish leaders, he had been given eyes to see that Jesus really was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament (see 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 110 and Isaiah 53). He saw through the godless plans of evil men to the good purposes of God for the profit of the world. When they presented him an option that was meant to lead to his death in Jerusalem, Paul saw it as an opportunity to travel to Rome and therefore bring the message of life to the people of that city (see Acts 25:12).
Luke had many lessons for us today. First, we ought not to stake our hopes for the stability of the Church on the favors of nation, party or culture. Instead, all the favor we need in order to complete the Church’s mission is provided through the favor of Jesus Christ the Resurrected. Second, since we have the Holy Spirit to help guide us with Scripture, we are able to see vistas that others cannot see. God has placed us in the midst of many broken systems: government, work, school, family and even the church. Yet, Jesus’ favor rests upon us, so we are able to discern ways to influence these many systems in the ways God wants.
Questions for Conversation:
1) Have you heard of or experienced a time when the Church or a Christian was relying too much on the favor of the world for her success?
2) What network are you a part of that you’d like to see change? Can you discern how God intended it to work at creation? For example, what does God intend business transactions to look like?
3) How does Colossians 3:1-4 relate to today’s message:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.