Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.
It’s a dangerous thing to believe God doesn’t want you.
Every Monday evening, a team of people leave our mission to visit homeless in camps and people in their humble homes. And every Monday night, we pray for divine appointments. Is there such a thing as a divine appointment? I could share countless stories that testify to that truth. But a divine appointment is only a setup, a God-opportunity and our actions have much to do with whether those opportunities are missed or not.
I understood opportunity from a different perspective as a wound care specialist. For 10 years, I treated spider bites, dog bites, diabetic wounds, vascular wounds, burns and pressure ulcers. Some of them were pretty straightforward. Some were complex. And some were infected. Infections happen because of opportunity.
An opportunistic infection occurs when a microbe has an opportunity it normally doesn’t have like a host with a depressed immune system or a break in the skin.
No matter how ready the microbe is to infect, its “success” is dependent on circumstances external to itself.
Opportunity is just that: The potential to benefit at the moment when external circumstances and internal readiness are aligned.
Potential is a key word in that definition. External circumstances can be just right and you can still choose to do nothing. Potential doesn’t mean something actually happens. Sometimes potential is never actualized. That’s called opportunity missed!
This scripture is remarkable because on this particular day of salvation, no opportunity was missed. The external circumstances were optimal and all those who were readied internally said “Yes!” Paul, anointed by the Holy Spirit, planted seeds in every heart ready to receive and when God’s conviction swept over the crowd, all who were appointed were saved.
Some might argue from this scripture that God appoints some to salvation and others to hell, that this verse supports an argument for predestined election. It’s a dangerous thing to believe God doesn’t want you, not to mention antithetical to what scripture teaches about His love for every person. It’s much more reasonable to assume that the divine appointment for salvation comes at different times for different people. Not every one in that crowd had an appointment on that day.
(This morning, my wife drew a mental picture of a God-sized appointment book. On any calendar day, there are specific names written on the schedule. They each have an appointment with Him. For those, that day truly is the day of salvation. Will all say yes? Unlikely. What does God do with those who missed their appointment? Erase them? X them out? Or does He reschedule them? How many times do you think you were rescheduled before you showed up to meet Him? Personally, I’m so thankful He’s a re-scheduler!)
Not only are there implications of God’s nature to provide different and distinct opportunities to be saved, but there are implications about our involvement in the process!
Let’s talk about infection again. The risk for infection is the combination of the microbe’s potency or virulence (think ‘strength’) and the load (think ‘amount’) that comes in contact with a person. In other words, you may have a cut on your leg and someone might sneeze near you. There’s some small chance that an MRSA bacteria might find its way in your cut and result in an infection. But if you spilled an entire rack of Petri dishes inoculated with MRSA and your leg was covered in them, think of the increased opportunity for infection then!
So are you a sneeze or a spill?
Each of us should ask, “How am I doing with spreading the Gospel? Are my words and actions like Christ? Are they potent in truth and infectious in love? And how often in a day is someone likely to hear or see Christ in me?” Again, the potency and quantity of the seeds we sow are what build greater potential for the next God-opportunity in someone’s life. Sow good seeds everywhere you go. It could mean the difference for the next person you meet when the day of his appointment comes.