Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stirring Up a Riot

“they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” Acts 17:5

The first few verses of Acts 17 focus on Paul’s missionary work in Thessalonica. In earlier chapters, we see Paul is confronted with opposition. In Thessalonica, the opposition that he faces is more intense. The antagonists did not simply contradict Paul’s preaching. They took things a step further by rounding up some bad characters who incited a riot. (See Acts 19:23-41 about Paul in Ephesus).

I have never been anywhere near a riot before. Nor do I care to be anywhere near one. I have seen them on TV and that is enough for me. People in biblical times are no different than people today. Occasionally, you will see a group in a foreign country rioting for religious reasons. Perhaps a cartoonist will draw an image of a certain religious figure sending people into turmoil. Also, in foreign countries you might see riots driven by political or economic reasons. Here in the United States, as well as our brothers in Canada, you might see riots because your sports team lost or won a championship. (See “The Sports Riot: First We Lose (or Win) Then We Set This Sucker on Fire”). The problem with riots is a large number of people will always get hurt. There are also occasions where some may die.

Returning to Acts 17, we see the intensity of the opposition that is instigated by these unsavory characters. This all takes place because Paul is preaching the Gospel. The scripture is not clear, but it seems that the other believers kept Paul and Silas hidden so no harm would come to them. It was not until the middle of the night that the other believers helped Paul and Silas escape to a town called Berea.

Today, we should not be surprised if we encounter opposition when we go public with our faith. If we imitate Paul by holding that we are not ashamed of the Gospel, we will encounter opposition. See Rom. 1:16. Our society is comfortable with the EC Christians (i.e., Easter Christmas) and the secret agent Christians. The Great Commission Christians, however always attract criticism from the atheists, agnostics, people of other faiths, and even those Christians who deliberately ignore Matt. 28:18-20. Jesus warned his disciples about this. In John 16:33, he said “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” If Peter and Paul experienced trouble, we should not be surprised if wee too experience challenges because of our faith. At the same time we should remember the promise that he will never leave us nor forsake us. Heb. 13:5.

Prayer: Father, I give you thanks for trusting us with your Great Commission. Whether the times or difficult or easy, that you promised you will never leave us nor forsake us. We ask that you help us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Fill us to the fullest measure, enabling us to share your good news with great boldness. All of these things I pray to you in Jesus name.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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