Acts 14:1-7

“The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. 

But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news.” Acts 14:1-7

Today is August 17th. I have no idea how many shopping days we have until Christmas but I’m willing to bet right now that the Christmas season will once again feature a ridiculous outcry against some practice that strident voices will see as an attack against Christianity. Last year it was red coffee cups. Seriously.

Christian leaders in many places across the world are arrested, tortured, and killed. Christian communities in Africa and the Middle East are targeted for burning, raping, and killing. People die for their faith every day. I’ve read that a Christian is killed because they are Christian once every five minutes. And we get bent out of shape over red coffee cups?

When a politician in the United States says that Christianity is “under attack” they could very well be right. But that attack is not being waged by laws protecting the interests of minorities (which quite rightly are exactly the sort of care for the oppressed that Jesus calls us to), it is being waged by Christians themselves who deny the cross by choosing comfort, convenience, and control over sacrifice, service, and sanctity.

Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium because it was a large, cosmopolitan, and important city. Then they went to the synagogue to tell the story of Jesus. The result? Some came to believe, others began to plot the beating they wanted to give to the men they accused of stirring up trouble. NOTICE it was those who stood in opposition to the faith who resorted to violence to shut those faithful voices up.

History has proven that earthly opposition cannot stop the Christian movement. It is not violence directed toward Christians that compromises Christian mission but violence done by Christians that does. How many times have we heard voices that reject Christianity run down the long litany of heinous Christian wars and abuses? Perhaps not enough. Because if we did we might come to more quickly recognize when we are doing it again.

Christianity is exploding in China. The spiritual vacuum that has been created by growing awareness of the hollow promises of communism is being filled by Christians who are more than willing to bear the cross of sharing the good news with friends and family, gathering in small home churches, risking the oppression and dangerous consequences that entails.

In the United States? Our church properties don’t pay property taxes. Clergy get a nice deal by not having to pay income tax on their housing allowances. Church members get to deduct their charitable contributions from their income taxes. The police come to our property when we call them to help us, they don’t show up to harass or arrest us. Parents bring children to be baptized with no intention whatsoever to actually raise them in the faith. And the average Lutheran invites a friend to church once every 16 years.

Have we lost the ability to recognize the difference between being privileged and persecuted? Christianity “under attack” in America? Please.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we are always tempted to look for the easy way out, to close our eyes to that which we don’t want to see, and to portray ourselves as victims when in fact we are just the opposite. We want the crown without the cross. Today we pray for those who are willing to lose their lives in order to find them, for those who remain faithful in the face of dreadful and terrifying oppression. May their witness light a fire in us, that together we might reflect your love as the light of the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Acts 14:1-7”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Amen!

  2. BERT LEDERER Says:

    Amen is right!

  3. Lynn Says:

    I’ve been saying this for several years now. We are a spoiled, almost rotten, bunch of Christians here in America! Thank you for speaking the truth, that is often so hard to hear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: