S (Scripture): Acts 17:4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.
10 The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea at once, during the night. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul had also proclaimed the word of God in Berea, they came there too, inciting and disturbing the crowds. 14 Then the brothers sent Paul away to the coast at once, but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea.
O (Observation): Resistance to the Gospel message of “Jesus Christ as the Messiah” was widespread in the early years of the Church. Even as people (both women and men, the Scripture points out) were drawn to Paul and the Gospel message, others were resistant. And not only resistant, but violently so.
Those who resisted Paul’s message gathered a mob to enhance this resistance in Thessolanica. Then, Paul moved on to Berea, gaining many more believes, but those same hostile resistors back in Thessolanica decided they needed to follow Paul to Berea. In Berea, the resistors caused trouble for Paul, as well.
Even in the midst of adversity, the seeds of the Gospel faith were sown. Many heard the words of hope of the Gospel. In Berea, Silas and Timothy stayed behind, presumably, to help further establish the Church there.
A (Application): Wherever we proclaim the Gospel, resistors will be present. We will have victories and failures – in the world’s eyes. Yet we measure not by the world’s standards. Instead, we discern God’s Spirit constantly and pray that we have done God’s will. The Spirit has and always will direct us properly.
Sometimes, God’s path for us will lead to dangerous mission. Sometimes, we will be at peace. Either way, we are still called.
In this time of political upheaval, the Gospel message is hard to discern. Many of my conservative Christian friends believe that supporting the Muslim community or LGBTQ community goes against God’s will, against Scripture, and is therefore dangerous territory.
As I dig deep into my faith, leaning on Scripture and the Spirit, I cannot help but look at my fellow humans as fallible, just as I see myself as fallible. And yet, we are all called to look upon one another in love, just as Christ looks on us with love. This is the Gospel “with clothes on.” Serving one another, loving one another. This does not mean that “anything goes.” Rather, we start with caring for our neighbor, instead of judging them.
Political actions of late by our President has caused considerable unrest. The best I can do is support humanitarian efforts as a Gospel imperative. To look upon others with love, not hate or suspicion.
We will be carried forward by the Spirit. The Spirit has led God’s people through the wilderness before. Some forge new paths. Some stay behind to help out as others move on. God continues to lead us all through our own wilderness experiences today. We will be okay. And we will reach out in love to our neighbors in need. Especially refugees seeking shelter.
P (Prayer): Lord, clear our hearts and minds of worry and suspicion. Give us bold spirits to love and look on one another with the eyes of Christ – able to see the best in others, not just the worst. Amen.