“And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” — Acts 18:7-8 NKJV
“Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.” — Acts 18:17 NKJV
You’ve heard the phrase — “You had one job.”
It’s true that most of us live life like a three-ring circus clown, juggling numerous obligations. With the clown, juggling is the “one job,” but not so with us.
Life comes at us fast and it’s easy, real easy, to get lost in the quest for juggling all the pins.
For the juggling clown, all the pins are of equal importance. One does not take priority over another. When life becomes a juggling act, it’s easy for high priorities to lose their prominence and get lost in the shuffle.
We know the apostle Paul was a tentmaker by trade. We know that he was highly educated. We know that he carried on his shoulders the responsibility of personally planting churches and equipping them for success.
At times he had to serve as a corrective parent to these churches he planted. In their infant stages they sometimes fell while learning to walk on their own. Paul even acknowledged that he was a proud parent when he would hear positive reports from one of these congregations.
With all of the responsibilities that he had, with all the pins in his juggling act, what was the secret to his widespread success?
I think it can be wrapped up in this simple phrase: Paul was infected with a faith that was contagious. With his many responsibilities, it seems that he never lost his sense of priorities.
With all of the communication required to plant and grow a single church now multiplied, it is obvious that there was one task that was his top priority. There was that one pin that stood out from the others. There was one message that he couldn’t help but share and it somehow saturates everything else to the point that he really only had one task.
The task? Tell people about the change. Tell them about life before and after the Damascus Road encounter with Jesus. His was a compelling message, the evidence proves it.
Let’s consider the evidence here in Corinth.
When Paul arrived he finds lodging in a house located next door to the synagogue. The synagogue was a pond where non-believing fish gathered regularly. We know Paul was compelling because verse 8 tells us that Crispus, the “ruler of the synagogue,” believed along with his household.
I’d say that’s pretty strong evidence of what was at the top of Paul’s list of priorities.
By believing, Crispus lost his job and title as ruler of the synagogue. We know that’s true because we see in verse 17 that he has been replaced by Sosthenes.
What happens next? Paul shares his story with the new ruler of the synagogue and now he becomes a believer. He had to know that Crispus was fired for believing. He had to know that Paul was like a bacteria to the orthodox.
It would stand to reason that Sosthenes would have had enough foreknowledge that he would have built up some level of immunity to Paul and his message. But we see proof once again that Paul’s own conversion story was the invitation that others responded to.
Paul could have told them about the faith of Stephen. He could have mentioned Peter at Jerusalem and the miracle at Pentecost. He could have told them about Barnabas’ faith.
Why didn’t he? It’s because nothing was more real to him than his own encounter with Jesus. Technically, someone else’s faith is just hearsay, but Paul knew what he knew, first hand. Before meeting Jesus, all he had was a second-hand, hand me down religion.
Now he had a personal walk with the Master. He was infected by the Holy Spirit and he was contagious.
Many would say that they are Christian, but that’s not the question for today. The question we should ask ourself is “Am I contagious?”