I mentioned in the last post: I can’t help but feel sorry for Paul. Just like Joseph in Genesis, he’s left to sit and rot in prison. A man of tremendous accomplishment, with much more potential and talent to reach the masses, is sitting still in shackles.
This situation reminds me of Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. or even Moses in Exodus. These men get locked away or have to run for their lives for a period of time. All they’re trying to do is fight for justice. But the masses can’t handle it, or a segment of society can’t handle it, so the people bring all kinds of charges and false accusations to put these righteous men behind bars.
But back to the book of Acts:
I’m amazed by a few other things:
- Paul’s dedication and complete life transformation.
- Paul and Peter and John’s ability to heal and perform miraculous deeds.
- The apostles and disciples ability to explain the entire Gospel from the Old Testament.
- The Holy Spirit blocking Paul’s attempts to go north or east in Asia, and instead, he goes west and south to all kinds of cities along the Mediterranean coast. Ironically, or perhaps providentially, it’s because of this that almost all of the New Testament letters are eventually written. Paul visits these cities, then writes to these cities, and if the Spirit wouldn’t have blocked his initial attempts, it is hard telling what would have happened. Maybe Paul would have never stopped to write. Maybe we wouldn’t have the majority of the New Testament. Maybe the Roman Empire wouldn’t have been “Christianized” by Constantine. Who knows?!
I’m also struck by how many people are mentioned in passing. It’s like the entire book focuses on the apostles and their deeds, but almost no space is given to the other preachers, teachers, leaders of local churches. Almost no space is given to the number of people who supported them, prayed with them, worked with them, worshiped with them, etc.
Finally, I’m amazed, but not amazed at the same time, by the sheer apathy and inaction of the political leaders at the time. So many of the “public servants” are actually in it for themselves, are afraid to take action because they fear the crowds potentially disapproving them. Perhaps, that’s a constant throughout history, with some rare exceptions. Again, who knows?
At the end of the day, I suppose it is our responsibility — regardless of the crowds, regardless of accusations, regardless of public servants’ inaction, regardless of where we go — to act on two things:
Love God and love others
How can we do that? In the words of Tim Keller, by bridging racial divides, by caring for the poor, by forgiving others and having meaningful conversations, by saving unwanted babies, and by keeping the sanctity of marriage.
Do a couple of these sound right wing? Do a couple of these sound left wing? Yep. And that’s exactly the point.
Jesus and his followers didn’t live in 21st century America, but if they did, none of them would be aligning with a single political party. Jesus wasn’t a Republican, nor was he a Democrat. Neither were his disciples and followers. The disciples and apostles in the book of Acts aligned themselves with the things Tim Keller mentioned above. Because, throughout history, the healthiest followers of Jesus have always aligned with these things.
True Christianity is a great equalizer, between men and women, Jew and pagan, poor and rich, slaves and free. It is and always has been a subculture, a reconstructing, a redefining of all kinds of norms.