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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Priority of the Word

As I’ve been preaching through the book of Acts, I’ve been excited about reaching chapter 20 (only took me 14 months to make it here!). I love this chapter for two reasons: Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders, and the story of Eutychus.

Over the years I’ve joked that the reason I love the story of Eutychus is because it allows me to say, “As bad as my preaching is, at least it’s never killed anyone.” Paul can’t say that. However, there is a much more serious point to this story.

We occasionally get caught up in the amazing and unique aspects of a story and miss the underlying point. We fixate on the Jonah’s sojourn inside the big fish and forget the whole point behind it; things like Israel’s racism and failure to be a missionary people, God’s sovereign choice to have mercy on whom He will have mercy, etc.

In Eutychus’ case, we focus on the sleeping in church, falling out of the window and dying, etc. and we overlook one thing. How little attention is given to the whole thing.

Just a refresher. Paul is preaching in Troas at a Sunday night church service. He preaches on and on and on, past midnight. It’s at about that time that poor Eutychus is finally overcome by sleep and makes his fatal fall. Paul goes down, prays over him, God miraculously brings the boy back to life, and they all go back upstairs.

Now here’s the really interesting part. They don’t spend the rest of their time focusing on Eutychus. They don’t put him on stage and begin asking questions. “What’s it like to be dead?” “Did you see heaven; what’s it like?” “Did you see your family?” “Did you see a white light at the end of a tunnel?” You get the idea. No one asked him to right a book on his “90 Seconds in Heaven,” though I’m sure he could have made a mint off of it.

No, instead they go back to the church meeting, share communion, and then Paul goes back to preaching. Amazing! It’s because they knew that the Word of God is the Priority! Eutychus couldn’t have told them anything that was more important than the Word of God Paul was preaching to them.

This is why they were here to begin with. This is in the days before weekends. Sunday was just another work day in Troas. These people gathered together after work because the Word was that important. Paul spent so much time because he knew he was leaving in the morning, and there is just so much in this Word that is important to get out. Even a death and resurrection in their midst isn’t more important than the proclamation of this Word.

I’m sure you can make all the appropriate applications to the Word Faith types, and those who want to focus on miracles and revelations. It even has something to say to those who want to entertain just to draw crowds (boy, could Paul have built on this one!)

Folks, there is nothing more important, more relevant, more imperative for His people to focus on than the miracle of His written Word. May the church find this as our priority once again.