Confrontation (July 8)

Acts 2:22-24, 32-38

Comment


Peter’s Confrontational Approach

It’s no secret that Peter was a “Ready-Fire-Aim” kind of guy. Whatever he did, he did it unhesitantly and with full force. When Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:15 who they thought He was, Peter didn’t mince words; he declared flat-out that Jesus was the Messiah. Then a few verses later he challenged Jesus’ stated mission head on. Can you imagine trying to correct the Son of God? You might, if you have a confrontational style yourself!

When Peter was in the fishing boat and wanted to be with Jesus, he didn’t hesitate to do whatever it took to get close to Him, even if it meant trying to walk on water. And when their enemies came to take Jesus away, Peter was ready to cut off their heads.

All Peter needed was to be convinced he was right, and there was almost no stopping him. He was direct, he was bold, and he was right to the point.

Is it any wonder God chose him as his spokesman on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? It was a perfect fit! God needed someone unafraid to take a stand, right there in Jerusalem, the city where Jesus had been crucified a few weeks earlier. He wanted to let the thousands of people who were there know in no uncertain terms that they’d crucified the Messiah, and that they needed to call on Him for His mercy and forgiveness.

Peter’s personality was custom-designed to fill the bill. With the empowerment of Holy Spirit, he stood quite naturally and confronted the people with the facts. And God miraculously used his efforts: three thousand people trusted Christ and were baptized that same day.

(Bill Hybels & Mark Mittleberg, Becoming a Contagious Christian, Zondervan, 1994, pp. 123-124)

Reading the Scripture

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the church office.)

•    Video:
o    The Book of Acts: The Visual Bible (Dramatized video movie, word for word from the NIV text. Available from Keith or this web page).
o    WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)

Teaching Suggestions


•    Sensitivity. Peter uses some language in this passage (“entire house of Israel . . . this Jesus whom you crucified”) that should not be used today because the context has changed in at least two ways. (1) Peter and the early Christians thought of themselves as Jews and part of the house of Israel. So their harsh language was not from one ethnic religious group to another; (2) More importantly, today we have a long history of some Christians using similar language to persecute Jewish people calling them “Christ Killers.” The horrors of the Holocaust make it necessary for us to avoid language, which would condemn a whole race of people.

•    “at the name of Jesus” (verse 38): In many cultures the meaning of names is more important than to most of us. I had a conversation with some of our friends in Rabat once about the meaning of names. They found it odd that I didn’t know the meaning of my name or that we didn’t consider the meaning of the names when we named our daughters. “We just thought they sounded good,” I said. Names in the Bible (and many other cultures), especially the name of Jesus, have meaning and power.

•    The Teaching Guide (p. 52) refers to the movie comedy, Evan Almighty, a modern day Noah who was urged by God to be confrontational. I have posted to this webpage the movie trailer and a clip in which Evan confronts people with the message of a coming flood.

•    Evangelism/Outreach Activity: Put the Bible into practice. Invite class members to think of one person with whom they might have a conversation about matters of faith. Pray for opportunities to share faith with others this week.

•    Evangelism Styles: “Suggestions for Using and Developing this Style” (from Becoming a Contagious Christian: Participant’s Guide, pp. 27-28) - Confrontational
o    Ask friends for feedback on whether or not you have the right balance of boldness and gentleness. Keep in mind Paul’s phrase in Ephesians 4, “speaking the truth in love.” Both trust and love are essential.
o    Prepare yourself for situations where you will stand alone (read about Peter in Acts 2 and other scripture). The non-believer you confront with the truth will sometimes feel uncomfortable. Even non-confrontational Christians who are with you will sometimes feel that discomfort. That’s okay. Under God’s guidance challenge people to trust and follow Christ, and He will use it.
o    Practice the principle of “Putting Others First.” It is critical that you listen and value what others say before telling them what you think they need to hear.

•    Concentric Circles of Concern: Use the Concentric Circles of Concern to help class members identify person within their sphere of influence with whom they could share the gospel (See attached sheet from first session).

Resources

I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons.

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)

•    Evangelism Resources:
o    Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels & Mark Mittleberg (Zondervan, 1994)
o    Becoming a Contagious Christian: Participant’s Guide, Mark Mittleberg, Lee Stobel & Bill Hybels (Zondervan, 1995)
o    Got Style? Personality-Based Evangelism, Jeffrey A. Johnson (Judson Press, 2009)
o    Concentric Circles of Concern: From Self to Others Through Life-Style Evangelism, W. Oscar Thompson, Jr. with Carolyn Thompson (Nashville, Broadman Press, 1981)
o    Anytime, Anywhere: Sharing Faith Jesus Style, William L. Turner (Judson Press, 1997).