Summary: Paul gives us insights into why he participated in religious festivals for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Why Did Paul Participate in Festivals?
1. Why do you suppose that Paul was in such a hurry to get to the festival of Pentecost in Jerusalem in this passage?
Illustration:Experience comes from what we have done. Wisdom comes from what we have done badly.
Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School.
Illustration:Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.
J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 80.
The great apostle recognized the power of group celebrations to advance the purposes of Christ. In a spiritual festival Paul knew that there would be multiple channels of communication available for the truth and love of Jesus Christ.
Paul knew that in this festival people would be much more open because they would tend to let down their natural defenses, filters and barriers to learning.
When people are relaxed they tend to be much more receptive than when they are distracted by the cares of life.
Ask the Lord to help you utilize social, sporting or spiritual festivals as an opportunity to be a witness to the love and truth of Jesus.
2. Paul attended the festival because it commemorated the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers. Paul wanted to accent a significant event that provided a great platform for advancing Christ’s great commission.
Even though he faced a higher possibility of renewed opposition in Jerusalem, he accepted the challenge.
Ask the Lord to help you to participate in significant spiritual events that remind people of the great things God has done.
3. Paul used social gatherings to find common ground with people for the purposes of improving communications. The former Pharisee knew how to build rapport with people in a public setting so greater love, trust and harmony could be established for Christ’s purposes.
By gaining understanding, respect, trust and empathy with people you enhance your chances of effective communication.
Ask the Lord to teach you how to build rapport with people through social gatherings. Without love and trust few people are willing to listen to what we have to say to them.
Ask God to help you demonstrate greater solidarity with the people of God.
4. Paul knew that communication in a social festival is multi-faceted. The great apostle knew that in this festival he could communicate Christ through his words, actions, and tone of voice.
Ask the Lord to help you improve the way you communicate through your associations, identifications and socializations.
5. Paul knew that this festival would allow him to listen to people so they would listen to His message of Christ.
Most people are not willing to listen to us unless we hear what they have to say.
Ask the Lord to help you to be willing to listen and learn from anyone for Christ’s sake.
6. Paul knew that his participation in the festival signaled a willingness to be harmoniously united with others. The great apostle had to fight his natural tendency to be independent.
Ask the Lord to help you find ways to be more cooperative, harmonious and unified with others for Christ’s kingdom and righteousness.
7. Paul used the festival setting to demonstrate how approachable, accessible and receptive he was to the common concerns of people.
Many people had a chance to talk with Paul about the normal concerns of life in this festival setting.
Ask the Lord to allow you to make yourself more available, approachable and receptive to the common needs of people.
8. Paul used the festival to learn about the everyday problems, needs and issues that were on the minds of normal people.
Being a task oriented individual Paul had to discipline himself to attend social festivals where relationships were emphasized.
Ask the Lord to help you overcome an emphasis on task-orientation by letting down your hair (As Paul did) to let people see you are genuinely interested in their needs, problems and issues.
Conclusion:A colleague of mine at NASA was assigned to prepare a presentation on lessons learned from our bad experiences with the Hubble Space Telescope. On his chart at the briefing, lesson No.1 read: "In naming your mission, never us a word that rhymes with trouble."
Reader’s Digest, March 1993, Page 128.