“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to Me.” – Acts 18:9-10 (NLT)
Okay… so imagine you have this reputation for bringing people before the authorities because of their beliefs and then one day you have a life changing encounter that changes you forever. Your whole mission does an about face and now you believe what they believe…and then you were lead to go out into all of the known world to share this Good News, but your own people didn’t wanna hear a thing you had to say. It’s like a New England Patriots fan all of sudden coming to Lincoln Financial Field and rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles…yeah boy, that ain’t flying with the die-hards, so you need to ship yourself back up to Foxborough.
If there is anything you can take away with the apostle’s Paul position as an evangelist, it is that he wasn’t an “in and out” kinda guy, meaning his missionary trips weren’t like a traveling P.T. Barnum circus show. Ya know, the kind that did massive “healings” so that when the hat got passed around people threw in healthy amounts of money so that God would “bless them richly.” On the contrary, Paul was into making disciples everywhere he went and, at times, it got him in trouble with the locals. Jew and Gentile alike. I guess being a onetime Hebrew of Hebrews, Pharisees of Pharisees’ and Roman citizen had its downside when he converted.
So, he’s in Corinth, second missionary trip, he’s developed a kinship with some folks named Aquila and Priscilla, he’s preaching in Synagogue, he gets rejected and when he has had enough of the blasphemy he kicks off the dust and shouts out, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6b). I guess there was a-foot-stompin’ along the way to Titus Justus’ (now there’s a Roman name for ya) house, and then Jesus shows up with words of encouragement, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
There are two things I can see in this passage of Scripture. In the first sense, we see the same straight arrow command that was given Joshua from YHVH through Moses and is standard Americas Keswick, “And the LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.” (Deut 31:8) And in the second sense I see a parallel with an Old Testament prophet named Elijah. It starts off quietly, “What are you doing here Elijah?” and then he is told, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18) You’ll also notice that Jesus didn’t tell Paul that his opponents wouldn’t try to stop him, just that they would be unsuccessful, and you will notice that there are no coincidences when it comes to Kingdom principles.
So, what can we glean from this? Well first off, if you’re out there telling people about Jesus and their chasing you outta the way, keep at it. You may have to find a different audience from time to time but Jesus doesn’t tell us to be silent on His salvation message. But then realize that you’re not alone, even if you’re not gifted as a vocal evangelist. Your “spiritual walk” is all that an unbelieving world really needs to see anyway. We have been given so many stories in the Bible about how ordinary people like us get the privilege of doing God-size things that maybe we oughta go back and read them in those times of doubt, because one time there was an apostle who doubted and the response was simple, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Most encouraging. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “Patiently endure the ups and downs of everyday life. Behind every annoying circumstance, learn to see God governing all things. See that He trains you through troubling situations as well as through pleasant ones. The intrusions God sends you will no doubt upset your plans and oppose all that you want. But they will also chase you toward God.”— Fenelon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. – Romans 5:1-2