Monday, March 30, 2020
Paul and Barnabas understood the dangers of spreading the gospel of Christ. In Acts 14:1-18, we are told of the challenges Paul and Barnabas faced … from being thought to be gods to being stoned by the overzealous Jews who followed them and convinced the crowds that they were less than human and tried to kill them. Establishing the church was deadly.
The message of this Christ, however, was powerful. It was transformative. Paul continued to call people away from worthless offerings and sacrifices to following this living Christ. Many gave up idolatry and heard the call of Christ.
As I hear the stories of Paul and the beatings, the shipwrecks, the imprisonment, and the treachery he experienced, I am in awe. And he didn’t do it just by preaching and exhorting people to come to Christ. Paul witnessed by the way he lived. He witnessed by his non-violent resistance to power. He witnessed by his willingness to stay on message even when being threatened with death if he did so. He witnessed by offering healing and grace to any who were suffering.
As I think of the season in which we find ourselves in our world, I see so many people … many who use the name Christian … who perpetuate systems of injustice. Issues of race, culture, gender and sexuality continue to arise with people in power marginalizing and harming others. When we have refugee and immigrant children being separated from their families and put in cages at our borders, there is no doubt in my mind that we are in a season that calls for courage. The courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Following Christ … really following Christ … will cost us. I wonder what our world will be when we focus less on reining in Christ and learning to let Christ reign.
Call us, Lord, to the place where Christ truly reigns … even when it is hard and where we are called to courage. Amen.