The Love of God Compels | James Stevenson
1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshipper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptised.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 ‘This man,’ they charged, ‘is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.’
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, ‘If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanour or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law – settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.’ 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Christ's Love compels us
As we read the account of Paul’s travels and ministry, we see a pattern emerging wherever he went. He announced the Good News of Jesus Christ, he showed people a new way to live, and he encouraged new faith communities to be built.
In everything he did, all the decisions he took about travelling to a new city or staying in one particular place for a long time, he followed what he understood God was telling him. He was far from home, investing in the people he met, making friends, going into their homes, obeying God and keeping on speaking even when on trial.
How similar this sounds to Jesus’ life, and perhaps this is no surprise. Filled with the Holy Spirit, new life was at work in him, leading him to live like Jesus. As Paul wrote in his second letter to the people of Corinth, ‘Christ’s love compels us’ and ‘if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation’.
Paul went on to write that as Christians they were speaking as Christ’s ambassadors, imploring people to turn back to God the Father. When we know God’s love personally, as Paul did, we too can see ourselves as Jesus’ ambassadors – speaking to friends and neighbours with the words we are given so that they too might turn back to God and discover love, forgiveness and a whole new dimension to life.