Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Acts 14:1-7


Summary retelling of Acts 14:1-7

Paul and Barnabas come to Iconium and begin preaching.  As typically happened, people began to listen and be curious.  The Jewish leaders begin to stir up trouble for Paul and Barnabas.  Paul and Barnabas stay for a time, doing powerful works in the midst of the people.  The town was divided.  Eventually the disfavor comes to a head and some people try to stone Paul and Barnabas.  They flee to Lystra and Derbe.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul and Barnabas don’t quit.  Even though they had it rough in Cyprus, they kept on going to Psidian Antioch.  Even though things ended roughly in Psidian Antioch, they continue preaching and come to Iconium.  And you know what?  We need to get used to this.  I hate to spoil the story, but the next 8 chapters (or so) are going to begin and end the same way.  Paul preaches, he draws a crowd, the town splits, Paul’s life is threatened, and he moves on and continues preaching.  It might seem pointless, except that I have intentionally left one aspect out up until now.  Why do Paul and Barnabas keep going?  The go because they know that they are making disciples.  Disciples were made in the places that they came from and disciples will be made in the place to which they are going.  Persecution is worth enduring for the sake of making disciples.

Does this dynamic of knowing the pattern for the rest of Paul’s life bring any respect for him in your eyes?  What is this sense of respect rooted in?

Second Thought:
The town splits with respect to those who want to follow Paul and those who desire to get rid of him (and probably a third group – those who simply don’t care).  Such it is with God’s work.  The godly will be inspired and become devoted.  The neutral will remain in their atheism and go through life as best as they can without caring about faith.  Those who oppose true faith will stand up and aggressively persecute it.  It is the pattern of ministry.  It is the life of the true believer.  True faith will split communities and draw persecution.  The world does not want us following God.

Why is it hard to think of truth splitting communities?  Have you ever witnessed this dynamic in your life – a time when true faith inspired some people and made others quite angry?

Third Thought:
Persecution.  They wanted Paul and Barnabas dead.  One does not plan to stone someone unless one intends for death to be the outcome.  To speak boldly about faith implies embracing persecution and the knowledge that death may come at any time.  People will hate the true disciple.  They hated Christ, the world will hate His disciples.  (See Matthew 10:16-25 and John 15:18-25 as two great teachings from Jesus on this topic.)

Is it scary to think about just how much people may genuinely hate you if you genuinely believe in God and follow His command to spread His Gospel?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 14:8-13
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