Some quick thoughts on today's daily lectionary passages (which can be found here: http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/10/7/ )
As I was reading the lectionary passages today, particularly the Acts 24 passage, I was struck by what was going on in the exchange in the chapter.
To quickly sum up, Paul is (surprise, surprise) in jail with the Roman authorities and they are trying to decide what to do with him and they are listening, first to his Jewish accusers and then to Paul himself.
What really stuck out to me was this paragraph of the Jewish accuser's representative:
"Your Excellency, because of you we have long enjoyed peace, and reforms have been made for this people because of your foresight. 3We welcome this in every way and everywhere with utmost gratitude. 4But, to detain you no further, I beg you to hear us briefly with your customary graciousness.
I am not sure what the PC word is for what is going on there, but the vernacular is, kissing butt. Sure, he is trying to get in on the Roman judge's good side, but it is pretty ridiculous. Contrast it to Paul and his straight forward and unapologetic style. Paul, and Steven and other early Christians - just like Jesus before them, never provoke the authorities without reason. But they in no way shy away from the truth of the Gospel. The Truth they are committed to sharing with all of their strength, mind, body and spirit - in other words their whole lives.
Jesus, Steven (the first Martyr of the Christian Church), Paul and others understood that the highest authority was not whoever had worldly authority, but God. And even if that meant putting themselves in mortal danger and saying things they knew would be deemed as offensive and/or incriminating they never backed down.
What the Jewish accuser does is tempting for all of us - to play to the 'authorities' of the moment. To say and/or do the things that will ingratiate us to those in positions of power or authority - or even just the 'taste makers' of our community or society.
The point is this - whatever situation you find yourself in, no matter who serious the circumstances, don't give into the temptation to bow down to any 'authority' but the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In every and all situation, with every part of your life testify to the power of God's Holy Spirit working in and through you. Sometimes that may mean 'fighting the power/s that be' or sticking out from the crowd, but I want to challenge all of us to live up to the example of Jesus, Steven, Paul and the early church who never backed down fro proclaiming the good news of the Gospel, regardless of the circumstances or the consequences.
Fight the power . . .
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