Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Acts 16:16-24

Boy, today's reading stops short of a very good lesson. Part of me wishes I could be writing about the next thing that happens to Paul and Silas. But, as luck would have it, I have this reading which ends with Paul and Silas thrown into jail.

The reading begins with Paul and Silas running into a slave girl who could predict the future. This girl was possessed with a demon that gave her this ability. For several days she followed Paul and Silas and shouted, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." Now at first glance one might think what is wrong with that. After all the girl is shouting the truth, correct? Since she is telling the truth it is good advertising, right?

Our reading today makes it clear that Paul gets annoyed with the shouting and takes care of it by conducting an exorcism. So why was Paul annoyed? Perhaps it was because the shouting of the possessed slave girl was attracting more attention than the gospel message Paul was preaching. Or perhaps it was because Paul realized the reason the girl knew what she knew was due to an evil demon. If Paul accepted the demon's declaration he would appear to be linking the gospel with demon related activities. Either way his message about Christ might get lost due to this distraction.

So Paul takes care of it by forcing the demon from the girl. Now the slave girl can no longer predict the future and the girl's owners are very upset as their revenue stream has just dried up. Thus Paul and Silas are brought before the magistrates and accused of being Jews and causing an uproar. For this Paul and Silas are flogged and thrown into jail.

Yes today's reading stops short of Paul and Silas' time in jail, but it shows us clearly that the gospel message (Paul and Silas were telling everyone the way to be saved) and evil (the demon possessing the slave girl) do not mix.

Wishing you the best in your walk with Christ,
Richard Leach

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