Today’s Reading: Acts 14:19-20 NIV
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
I Timothy 4:16 NIV
16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
You probably haven’t figured this out yet, but I tend to be a rather opinionated person. This character trait gets me into trouble a lot! Do you hold strong beliefs in your heart? Is there something you refuse to waiver on, even if it means you may get nailed for it? Often, when I feel the need to speak up, I get tongue tied or succumb to a sudden brain freeze. What is it about our own fears of rejection that may stifle us from sharing deep convictions of faith with people who may not agree?
We are all born into this world as innocent babies; we do not get to choose our parents, the culture in which we are raised, or the country where we live. We have been given minds to think and hearts that beat; we are united by the blood pulsing through our veins. We breathe and move and we learn by the living examples of others. Our traditions and culture leads us to base conclusions of faith upon our own personal experience. Opinions are formed early on, in large part, by what we are exposed to in life as little children. Is it possible to see beyond what we’ve come to know, and potentially grasp hold of a greater Truth? What would it take for you to be willing to change your mind?
Paul got stoned for saying what he believed. Because of Paul’s humanness, he must have felt some fear. He knew he would be openly rejected to the point of being tortured and even killed for his strong, unwavering doctrine of faith. It is an amazing thing to see the life of someone who has had been truly converted. Paul was relentless in preaching about the person he, at one time, persecuted with all his being. If Jesus Christ had not personally appeared to Paul on the Damascus road, Paul’s beliefs could not have changed so dramatically. It often takes a close, personal encounter to see life from a totally different perspective. Human hearts can change instantly, when we meet the Master face to face.
As we journey along the path, we must be very careful to filter and sort fact from fiction, able to see and understand Truth for what it is. The Jews who came to stone Paul held strong convictions. They saw this man as someone trying to destroy the truth of Scripture as they knew it. He was, in their eyes, a blasphemer, a liar, and, according to their traditions, Paul deserved to die. Ironically, Paul understood their sentiments better than they did. For he once believed what they believed, until Jesus Christ came and changed his hardened heart. They left Paul for dead; his body must have been crushed and lifeless for the men to walk away believing he was no longer alive. What a miracle it was, when Paul got up and walked back into the city, well enough to journey on. How could they not believe in Jesus after witnessing such an incredible miracle?
It is important to know in whom you believe and why you believe. Be prepared at all times to share the faith Christ has birthed in your heart, ready to defend and protect that which brings new life, so that you can avoid getting sucked into a web of false teachings and beliefs. Some may try to tell you that the way you live is far more important than the convictions of heart you hold. I believe we must lay our fears aside and be willing to tell others about Jesus, by the words we speak and the lives we live. For if we refuse to share our doctrine for fear of rejection, we have failed the One who willingly laid down His life to redeem us forever from sin and death.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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