Saturday, February 11, 2012

Acts 5:33-34

Summary retelling of Acts 5:33-34:

When the Sanhedrin hear the claims of the disciples, they desire to kill them.  They are thrown in a rage against what they believe to be blasphemy.  But a wise one of their council – Gamaliel, who is noted for having trained Paul in the ways of Judaism – steps up and prepares himself to give counsel.

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
It is sad that I do not find it hard to believe that the Sanhedrin could be brought to such a rage that they would want to kill the disciples.  It’s sad because I know it is true.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.  I’ve even been there myself.  Really smart people and people who care a lot about their faith also tend to be very passionate about what they believe.  People who are pretty passionate can be driven into the dark side of the passion pretty easily.  It is hard to be humble the more you know, because the more you know makes you even more convinced that you are right.

Have you seen someone fly into an overly passionate response about their faith when you know that God values things like peace, unity, and harmony?  Why did they do it?  Can you understand why they would do it?  Why do you think it is so hard to avoid responding like that in those kinds of situations?

Second Thought:
Another dynamic that is going on in this chapter is our old enemy of rational thought: the mob.  Groups of people tend to think less and respond more.  We think less because we can see everyone around us is thinking the same thing – so we conclude that we must be right!  However, logically we know that mobs very seldom come to the right conclusion.  Groups of people often make wrong decisions because our emotional response to an issue – especially a controversial issue – is usually wrong (or at least far too passionate to do much good).  It is when we are in a group of people that we really need to remember to think more and respond less.

Have you ever been a part of a mob or a big group of people motivated by a common cause?  Why do you think people have such an easy time forgetting to “think” when surrounded by a bunch of other people?

Third Thought:
All of these thoughts lead us to understand the wisdom of Gamaliel.  Here is a man who in spite of the mob mentality around him he is able to think clearly.  Here is a man who can give sound counsel while everyone else just wants to react.  He is rare because even when everyone else has lost control, he has the ability to maintain control.

Who are the people like Gamaliel in your life?  Do you listen to them as much as you should?  How can you become more like Gamaliel and the qualities that he embodies?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 5:35-39a
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