These men here... are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God... Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
The Apostle Paul, along with Old Testament heroes like Daniel and Esther, teach important lessons about evangelism in foreign cultures. Arguably, Paul is the greatest missionary since Jesus. His legacy is immeasurable.
Paul was a Pharisee, tentmaker, preacher, teacher, debater, and relentless disciple of Christ. He spoke fearlessly in the midst of hostile people and alien nations. Like Jesus, Paul spoke hard words to his own peer group, the Jewish leaders--because he was one.
Within our own culture, we can be direct. Because we've been there, done that, and speak the language. Consequently, some will listen. But have you ever tried to lecture (much less criticize) a group of people with whom you have little in common?
It doesn't work. In representing Christ, we might call it stupid evangelism--harming the cause of Christ rather than helping it. But Paul was not stupid; he was brilliant--in the light of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and intellect. Therefore, consider his style of evangelism.
When Paul came to Ephesus, idol worship at the temple of Artemis (a.k.a. Diana) was big business. Merchants selling temple souvenirs feared their income would decrease with the increase of the Christians. Therefore, they started a riot to rid themselves of the Jesus followers (see Acts 19).
But the ruling authorities intervened. They noted that neither Paul nor the Christians criticized their goddess. So the case was dropped. The good news continued to spread, and thousands came to Christ.
Respecting kings and cultures is smart business for Christians. When God said, 'Overcome evil with good' (Romans 12:21) and 'Love never fails' (1 Corinthians 13:8), He gave us the winning words to become ambassadors for Christ in a foreign land.
If you don't respect the reigning kings, you'll be shut down and kicked out before your good news flag is properly unfurled.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Respecting Kings and Cultures series.