Today’s Reading: Acts 14:5-7 NIV
5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat [Paul and Barnabas] and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the Good News.
What is it about a divisive plot line that captures our undivided attention? There seems to be a greater public demand for captivating plot lines in the films we watch and the books we read. We human types tend to thrive on aspects of conflict and resolution found in the personal problems we face, such as self-help, interpersonal relationships, professional workplace issues, or the ongoing disputes between the politics of various world leaders and the countries they serve. One cannot help but notice the increased demand for reality television programming, considered by many as popular entertainment. Why are we so intrigued by the thickening plot line?
My mother was an avid soap fan. When I was a little girl, housework promptly stopped from 1-3pm each afternoon so she could watch her “stories.” It is relatively easy to get sucked into the problems of others on television. The popularity of daytime soaps led to the production or prime time soaps, which became extremely popular in the early eighties. People were truly captivated by these notorious cliffhangers, leaving John Q. Public wondering which soap star would survive into the new fall season. Were you one of the millions who tuned in to find out who shot J.R.?
It is easy to miss the message while trying to stone the messenger. The plot line can certainly distract us from the main point, if we let it. This was certainly the situation for Paul and Barnabas. They were out there, taking the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world; yet, faced a stronger opponent – the brunt of public opinion. This well-rooted, generational dissent causes a thickening plot line that mesmerizes many today. God-fearing Jews and Gentiles who believed it was wrong to kill, embraced laws to take out God-fearing Jews and Gentiles who now believe that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promised Messiah. In the names of blasphemy and heresy, these men and women took it upon themselves to plot out a murderous end for the Apostles and their new converts. As the plot thickened, folks were caught up in a public frenzy, many missing out on the true message of the Good News. Folks, it is still happening today.
In order to fully experience God’s grace and truth, we need to set aside the storyline of the Gospel and take a closer look at the Lord Jesus Christ himself: His life, ministry and mission for the world. If we could just let go of the thickening plot line and kneel at the foot of the cross, we would be able to finally embrace the One whom Paul and Barnabas spoke so lovingly of.
Are you more interested in seeing the lynching of these men, or meeting the One whom they speak of? The plot thickens…
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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