I was struck over the weekend by a transition in scripture. You may recall in Acts that Paul and Barnabas preached together for a time. And, yes, they had a transition in which they parted ways. That’s not the one I’m talking about. I’m talking about the one that happened after Paul had healed a man that could not walk from birth. If you remember, the crowd was ecstatic! Let me share that:
Acts 14:11-12 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
Of course, the two men begged them not to do such a thing but instead worship God. Here’s where the transition comes in. My ESV bible has a heading break, but one verse follows another.
v. 19 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
v. 20 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
What the hey! One minute the hero, the next minute they are throwing rocks at him, fully intending to kill him. And what about Barnabas? What happened to him? How come he didn’t get stoned, too? Was he hiding or something? After all, they called Barnabas Zeus, so he certainly was well-known.
Just think about that. How fast can things change. Almost in a blink of an eye, things can turn ugly. The same thing happened to Jesus when he preached in his hometown synagogue. Remember that?
Luke 4:22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
And then Jesus kept on yapping.
v. 28-29 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on where their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.
Listen, I hope nothing like this happens to me; but if it does, I won’t be the first. My guess is it probably won’t, but I should be prepared for some severe transitions, right?
The question is, am I sharing the gospel enough to experience a transition like this? Do I speak of Jesus? When I do, is it only in front of “safe” people? Do I care to take risks and share the good news amongst people who hate it? Or, do I drive myself away by my silence so that I might not encounter their wrath?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting starting a fight at Christmas. It is one thing to be argumentative; it’s quite another to share the gospel.
I think it’s wise to study these transitions and to act accordingly. Certainly, Jesus is our leading example, and Paul did a wonderful job following suit.
Father, encourage me to expect and look forward to radical transitions. Create in me a burning desire so I simply must tell others about Jesus – despite the cost. I know that I may wonder why I asked this but give me the strength and hope I need to keep charging ahead. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers