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"Acts 29"?

Date: 
Sunday, 31 July 2011

There is of course no “Acts 29” in our Bible.  The Acts of the Apostles closes with Acts 28:31 when the Apostle Paul “boldly and without hindrance… preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Yet, in a way, Acts continues (with “Acts 29” which becomes a shorthand of sorts) to be written as you and I follow Jesus tracing the obedient footsteps of the earliest Christians, proclaiming the good news through Christ.  “Acts 29” is written not in the pages of the Bible but in the pages of our lives.

We have no choice.  Whether you and I like it or not, we write “Acts 29”.  We have to answer before God how have we been writing “Acts 29” with the lives He has given us?  Are we all writing with joy and gratitude, recounting to the world what God is doing through us as the good news continues to transform lives and setting people free?  Or it is something we prefer not to talk about because we have not made any conscious effort to write “Acts 29” well?

From Acts 9 onwards until the end of Acts 28, Paul had occupied the central stage of the missionary story.  We witness to his character and passion as he underwent tremendous suffering and making great sacrifices for the course of the gospel.  Indeed his is one sterling example of a follower of Christ worthy of our emulation, writing “Acts 29”. 

Towards the end of his life as he wrote 2 Timothy, Paul mentioned two of his fellow co-workers: Demas and Mark.  Demas had left Paul (and presumably the mission too) because “he loved this world” (2 Tim 4:10).  Scripture is silent whether Demas ever returned.  Sadly, we didn’t hear of him any more. 

Mark had also deserted the mission (cf. Acts 13:13) but he later made a turn-around with Barnabas’ help (Acts 15:36-40).  Paul described Mark in 2 Timothy as “helpful to me in my ministry” (4:11) and reliable Christian tradition attributes authorship of the Gospel that now bears his name.

Together with Paul, we have three models from the New Testament who have written their “Acts 29”.  Who would you rather be?  Paul or Demas?  Or you would take after Mark who had made a wrong turn in life.  But like him, you can return.  And the God of the ‘second-chance’ (even infinite chances), will give you another new start.  AGAIN.  AFRESH.

Joseph Teng