Confronting the Good News
I greet You, Lord Jesus. Thank You for Your invitation to fellowship with You. I bless Your name.
Read ACTS 17:1-9
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Serve patiently and cheerfully, remembering that the work you are called to do is God’s work.
The writer to the Hebrews described the Word of God as active and divisive. Indeed, he wrote, it is “sharper than any double-edged sword” (4:12). As the embodiment of that Word, Jesus spoke of bringing not peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34). Sometimes this works itself out in momentous ways, as we have seen in the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah. Sometimes, though, followers of Jesus find themselves caught up in conflict simply by going about their business. So it was with Jason. He offered Paul and Silas hospitality, and found himself swept into the maelstrom created by Paul’s preaching in the synagogue at Thessalonica.
Either way, as we live out our faith, sooner or later trouble finds us. Sometimes this happens because incompatible explanations of the world collide. In Thessalonica, the synagogue Jews came face to face with the claims of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish faith. Our conflicts are also sometimes explained by a clash of world views. In the twenty-first century West, for example, the very possibility of an agreed notion of truth challenges us to make a personal choice.
Few confrontations remain at the level of ideas, however. The Jews of Thessalonica were not concerned that Paul was leading people astray with false ideas: they were jealous (5). By developing a following among both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, Paul was lessening the influence of the synagogue leaders. So they formed a mob and twisted their opponents’ message by claiming that Paul and Silas were defying Caesar (7). Jeremiah was no doubt the subject of professional jealousy, and the same can happen to us. In such circumstances it is distressingly easy to find ourselves responding out of our own insecurities and sin. We need God’s grace to recognize when our own promotion of truth can, ironically, become unworthy of the Jesus whom we proclaim.
Of whom are you jealous, or by whom do you feel threatened? Pray about the situation.
Lord, I remember those who face hostility for their faith. Visit them with Your grace and power. Fill them with courage and hope and Your peace.