The Art of Persuasion

February 20, 2018

Acts 18:4… And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

            When I read this today, I was struck by the phrase, “tried to persuade.”

Paul labored amongst the people. Making disciples of all nations was more than just reading the Bible to them. This is interesting to me because we are taught that God must draw men and women to Himself. Earlier in Acts, it said that He added to the church daily those who would be saved. So, do we have any role at all? The sentence above gives a little clue as to what Paul did.

            He tried to persuade. He did His best. And that seems to define our roles. We can’t save anybody. But, we can try to persuade them that it is best. And that is a description of “witnessing.” By simple definition, witnessing is telling what we have witnessed. Paul taught, “Jesus is the Christ; and here is why I say that.” The persuading part was trying to convince the listeners that he was telling the truth. He used the scriptures… the Old Testament; many of his listeners, including his detractors, knew the scriptures well. His job was to combine verses and explain the real meaning of texts. Our job is different because we witness to many people who don’t have a knowledge of scripture. They have opinions about scripture, many of them very strong; but, for the most part they often don’t know what they are talking about. The Bible is not crystal clear. It is when our reading is led by the Holy Spirit; but, when we try to get it with human understanding, we miss it.

            I have a friend who does Lasik surgery on eyes. He can talk details and specifics that only another doctor can understand. I can’t grasp the language; I have not been trained.  My understanding of the surgery comes from people who have had it done. From their testimonies, I have an opinion about the surgery. And that is what witnessing does. From the testimony of a witness, a person develops an opinion about God. And that stresses the importance of lifestyle. Our words, if we don’t live them, are just words and a ‘seeker’ can be distracted by the disparity between our words and our actions. We tell people that ‘God changes things’. Does your lifestyle back that up?