S (Scripture): Acts 25:6 After Festus had stayed not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he sat on the judgment seat and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges that they were not able to prove. 8 Paul said in his defense, “I have committed no offense against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.” 9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, asked Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and be tried before me there on these charges?” 10 Paul replied, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I should be tried. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. 11 If then I am in the wrong and have done anything that deserves death, I am not trying to escape dying, but if not one of their charges against me is true, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”
O (Observation): Paul demands (once again) that he has broken no Roman laws, nor any of the Laws of Moses. So…why is he on trial?
The Roman rulers don’t know what to do with Paul, because he hasn’t broken any Roman laws…but they are tired of this behavior that is causing the Jews to be so upset. So, the Roman leaders (like Festus) are willing to let the Jews enforce their own punishment on Paul by looking the other way. If Paul is hurt or killed…so be it. (The Jewish leaders were going to kill Paul on his way to Jerusalem.)
Yet Paul insists he is innocent. And if he really hasn’t broken any bit of the Law of Moses, either, then what’s the big deal?
Well, Paul has begun to challenge the traditions of the Church. He doesn’t fit into the mold they have set up for the Church. He doesn’t play by their rules of elitism and tradition. So…they try to quiet him down and send him off to death! Such is the life of a disciple.
A (Application): Some people are called upon to stand out and stand up for a cause. Some are called to befriend those who stand in opposition to the cause, to bring them along…to be a bridge, as it were.
Can there be a place for each? I think so. Some disagree with me, but that’s fine. I’ve worked hard at trying to clearly define who I am and who God is calling me to be.
I live in different worlds simultaneously. We all live in multiple worlds. Sometimes I have to put both feet into the cause, sometimes one in and one out. Sometimes I’m not part of the movement at all. I can’t be all things all of the time. Is that part of my sin? Perhaps.
I respond as I feel called by God. I discern this with my loved ones and others that I trust to help me out.
But either way, I get the feeling – as Paul did – that someone will be ready to accuse or berate me or others when our callings clash with one another – even between fellow believers.
So what do we do? Perhaps we approach others with humility. Perhaps we allow for the fact that others might be right, AND we might be right. Do we have to agree with others? Not necessarily. In fact, we may be called upon to disagree with a brother or sister in Christ… but we can do so with humility… with love… without dragging each other down… without making a personal attack.
Stand up for what you believe in. But you don’t have to drag others down…passively or aggressively.
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see the good in the other. Help us to know that standing up for you doesn’t mean we have to put others down. Amen.