S (Scripture): Acts 23:12 The next morning some Jewish leaders formulated a plot and solemnly promised that they wouldn’t eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty people were involved in the conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have solemnly promised to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 You and the council must explain to the commander that you need Paul brought down to you. Pretend that you want to examine his case more closely. We’re prepared to kill him before he arrives.”
O (Observation): Paul was nearing the end of his time. He sort of sensed it, but never gave up. He was smart and faithful.
Probably a bit scared, too, no? He was well connected, but the scary part of the story is the lengths to which these church leaders would go to silence Paul, and thereby crush his influence on others.
People of God thinking that killing the opposition is the right thing to do. We, unfortunately, have examples of this in the Old Testament. Oppose God? Die!
A (Application): I don’t pretend that suffering as a Christian in America is anywhere near suffering as a Christian in 1st century Israel or Rome, nor as a Christian today in certain countries run by dictators.
But American Christians can be rather hurtful and downright evil in their expression of the “defense” of their faith. These angry Christians believe that Christianity is in danger of being compromised. Like they have to come to God’s defense. Can’t God take care of Godself?
Not that we back down from our beliefs. We simply don’t need to defend God, other than in a non-violent direct action kind of way. We can stand up for causes and for equal rights, but not in a violent or vindictive way.
We seek God and others to discern our responses to evil in this world. If they include violence to make our point…we must return to prayer.
P (Prayer): Lord, give us wise and discerning hearts and minds. We go to the cross, not to weapons. Amen.