Since returning home from my trip to Greece, Italy and Turkey following in the footsteps of the great heavy weight in the Christian faith, the Apostle Paul, I’ve spent the last several mornings reflecting on his life and all that God has taught me through it. While the lessons I have learned are many, I’d have to say that the most important lesson I learned was that Paul was strategic in his evangelizing. That is to say, Paul did not walk around Asia and the Roman Empire sharing the Gospel haphazardly. Rather, he had a plan of action and intentionally went to prominent cities, cites where many high ranking officials and influential people traveled, so that the Gospel could be disseminated more quickly throughout the Roman Empire.
Before this trip, I erroneously imagined the Apostle Paul aimlessly wandering around the barren terrain of Asia Minor and sailing off to the uninhabited tropical islands of Greece evangelizing to any fellow lone traveler who was willing to listen. Of course this is not the picture the New Testament paints of the Apostle’s life. However, if I am to be truthful, I’ve somehow wanted to deceive myself into believing that Paul was able to make such a profound impact for Christ, because the world in which he lived was somehow less sophisticated and complicated and hostile than the world in which I live. Thankfully, God brought down the wall of denial and self-deception and showed me otherwise. The truth is, Paul’s world was just as, if not more, sophisticated and complicated and hostile as the world in which I live, thus making Paul’s impact for Christ that much more astounding. He was always my hero, but now he is my superhero.
In Troas, when Paul had the vision of the man from Macedonia asking him to come to Macedonia to help the people who lived there, Paul immediately filled the charge with a strategy in mind. Paul did not veer off the beaten trail as Rick Steves is known to do in Europe to find the hidden treasures few weary explorers find. Rather, when Paul went to Europe, he sailed over to Neapolis so that he could plunk himself down on the Ignatia Way, the Roman road which connected Asia to Italy, to purposely preach in the synagogues of the most influential cities of his day – cities such as Philippi, Thessaloniki, Berea, Ephesus, Corinth, Athens, and Rome. It was like traveling to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles and sharing Christ with all willing, and some not so willing, to listen. Indeed, all locations were all part of his master plan to impact the world for Christ so that the world would never be the same.
As I sit and reflect on Paul’s tactics, I can’t help but question whether or not I too am evangelizing strategically. Am I evangelizing to make the greatest impact for Christ, or am I floundering around sharing Christ only when convenient, or safe, to do so? It’s something to think about, isn’t it?