Thursday, August 11, 2005

Acts 21:27-36

Christianity champions unlikely heroes, doesn’t it?

In the book of Acts we have been introduced to Paul, one of the indisputable giants of the faith. And pretty much as soon as Paul meets Jesus, he finds himself in constant trouble. Today’s reading is no different. He is besieged by a hostile mob who is brutally trying to beat him to death.

It’s hard to escape the connection.

Now here’s the problem. Heroes are generally regarded as role models; as exhibiting behavior to which people, at least in some measure, should aspire.

So what is the behavior or character trait the Bible in this story is suggesting we should pursue? Is it to be troublemakers? To be the subject of violence? To be arrested?

Not directly, at least. What makes Paul a “hero” is his faithfulness to Jesus. It is the boldness of his witness. And in this we see something both of the depths of Paul’s love for Jesus and for the people Jesus died to save. He thinks of them before he thinks of himself, which means that his faithfulness, his witness, and ultimately his love, often come at a very high price.

There are so many ways this can be practiced, and on so many levels. The parent who is willing to be the parent God called them to be by disciplining a child even though the child hates them for it or simply calls them “mean”. The friend who speaks the truth in love or refuses to go along with the crowd even though they know their image might suffer in the opinion of others. Or…the devoted Christ follower who speaks out, loud and clear, about who Jesus is and ultimately what he requires.

Take your pick of these and a hundred more situations just like them. But if you do…well, like Paul, we had best be prepared for trouble!

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