Devotion October 4, 2006--Jeanne Merola
New things require much careful planning.
As a tourist in D.C. this week, I kept thinking of all the decisions that had to be made when our nation was being formed. There was no previous model to follow. There were so many things to be put in place, decisions to make, demands to be met (or not), ideas to consider, factions to appease.
These verses in Acts seem to tell a similar story. Christianity was a new thing. While firmly rooted in Judaism, Christianity was very different. The Jews of the day saw their whole culture, their whole history being threatened. As Christians we take for granted our freedom from the law, but in Paul’s time it was unheard of, a radical departure from Judaism, a new thing.
Yesterday we read about some ways the Christian leaders tried to defuse a volatile situation. Despite the careful plans, some unknown Jews made accusations that created a riot. How quickly it spread! In verse 27 the whole crowd was stirred up. In verse 30 the whole city was aroused. Had the commander of the Roman troops not acted quickly, Paul most likely would have been killed. Even with the help of the troops, Paul barely got out of there. But our reading ends with Paul being carried to safety while the crowd chanted the all-too-familiar Away with him, or as some translations read, Kill him! Kill him!
Most of us have not had the experience Paul had of being beaten by a hostile crowd. Most of us, however, have experienced a multitude of “opportunities” to put aside our Christian beliefs and follow the world. God was orchestrating a great new thing. I’m so glad Paul stood firmly on the Rock, even when his very life was threatened. I pray that I…and you…may do the same.