Acts 18:4-6: Who’s responsible?
“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.’” NIV UK
This short passage shows that Paul varied his method of working, and was quite willing to be ‘bi-vocational’ where necessary, working with his own hands to supply his needs (see also 1 Thessalonians 1:9). Paul’s words here, and his dramatic actions (see Matthew 10:14, 15) show that he felt a clear responsibility to preach the gospel to the Jews – which he did, with energy (4,5). However, once they demonstrated that they did not want this gospel, Paul accepted the responsibility was on their own heads. He felt free to move on to other fields. ‘As long as there are millions destitute of the Word of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will be impossible for me to devote time and energy to those who have both.’ J.L. Ewen. I believe the apostle Paul would agree with that sentiment.
The church has a definite responsibility to tell the world about Jesus;
The world has a clear responsibility to repent and believe in response.
Let’s not confuse those responsibilities. We have a duty (and privilege) to go and tell. Beyond that, we can’t make anyone believe.
However, it is a terrible thing; a grave thing to reject Jesus. Let no-one be in doubt about this. Today’s reading gives us no cause to think otherwise.