Have you ever wondered why people treat Christians and what they believe with contempt? Why does this happen, even though we have not done anything to them? Before his trial and crucifixion Jesus explained this to those who were with him.
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too.” (John 15:18-20 NET)
What was Jesus saying to the eleven apostles? He was reminding them of the cost of following him. Did the Jews of his day think that he was wonderful? Absolutely not! As Jesus spoke these words there was a plot to have him killed – and it was already moving towards what would be his crucifixion. If they did this to Jesus, can his followers, even today, expect anything different? Continue reading “Facing opposition”
What is it about proclaiming Jesus that stirs up opposition? This isn’t unique to our times. As Paul and Barnabas were traveling on their first journey they were constantly encountering opposition. This came from the Jews. Initially they were curious and wanted to hear more. But as Paul began to attract large crowds the Jews became jealous. They were thrown out of Pisidia.
When they arrived in Iconium “the same thing happened” (Acts 14:1 NET). Here the Jews stirred up the Gentiles and wanted to stone Paul and Barnabas – they fled to Lystra.
“In Lystra sat a man who could not use his feet, lame from birth, who had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he was speaking. When Paul stared intently at him and saw he had faith to be healed, he said with a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man leaped up and began walking.” (Acts 14:8-10) Continue reading “Opposition to the gospel”
Barnabas and Saul were selected by the Holy Spirit for a particular work. Saul had now been a Christian for just over ten years and had proven himself to be useful. Barnabas had brought Saul to Antioch a few years earlier to help him teach others about Jesus.
When we look at the order of the names of those listed as prophets and teachers in Antioch (Acts 13:1) it might be surprising to us that Saul is listed last. Perhaps due to his background as one who persecuted Christians, he did not have the same respect as the other teachers. If this was the case, those in Antioch were probably surprised when it was Saul who was selected along with Barnabas for this particular work. Continue reading “Telling others about Jesus”
How can those professing Christ impact a culture that marginalizes them or fights against Christian ways? A survey of history as well as current world events reveals this is a familiar question. Writing to a church in the midst of suffering, Paul’s words suggest at least three ways for moving forward.
Continue reading “Shining lights”