I am amazed by Paul's boldness we see showing through. Paul shares the historical account which brings the crowd to Jesus, and then proclaims the message of hope that Jesus is the Messiah. When the religious people of the area stir up trouble for Paul and Barnabas, they challenge them. When further trouble is the result, the shale the dust off their sandals and move on. This is a much greater insult than we might realize. It is not a matter of tucking tail and running. Rather it is an act of defiance, and essentially casting the area to its fate. These are not the actions of the timid.
When we today encounter challenge or persecution how do we respond? Do we simply stop doing what made people unhappy, or to we run away. Few and far between are the people who actually stand for what they feel God is calling them to. The followers of Jesus need to recapture some the holy boldness we see in Paul. This will mean challenging people and more difficult, challenging religious systems. That is exactly where Paul was getting his resistance. The average person heard the message of Jesus and responded positively. The religious establishment quickly organized the resistance movement to Paul and the Word of God displayed in Jesus Christ.
I often wonder what it would be like if the early church leaders came and visited the church in America today. For the most part I am not sure the church would like what was told to them. I cannot help but think we have gotten very far off course. Who will be the next Paul? Who will be the agent of God, that will challenge all things religious and invite people anew into relationship with Jesus Christ?