Monday, June 29, 2009

Acts 23 -- Paul's Trial Part 2

In chapter 23 the trial continues, as does the two varying uses of the earthly kingdoms. Paul begins to speak to the religious folks and they order him struck in the mouth. This is a distinctly Roman action taken by the religious leaders. The use of violence to subdue a person, more importantly to subdue anyone else from picking up the line of discussion. Paul being bold calls them on it, and they get a little mad at him.

Wanting to take the heat off him, Paul uses a technique Jesus used to get the religious leaders arguing among themselves. The argument gets so strong the Roman governor fears for Paul and removes him to safety. Now the religious leaders who have already used violence turn to deception to take care of Paul. Problem, God is at work and the plot is discovered. Before we know it Paul is on his way to Felix, the next level of Roman rules, to have the case heard there, and for his protection. The religious leaders are foiled again as they attempt to use the methods of this world to fight against what God is doing.

I wonder how often we find ourselves in that same place. We are so trained in the ways of this world we might confuse the ways of this world with the ways of God. They are very different. Unknowingly we can be standing in the way of what God is doing. Paul was called by God to preach to those outside the people called Israel. That is you and I for the most part. Yet we in the church can often look more like the religious leaders of Paul's day than the one who was called to witness to us. Are we willing to reclaim the call to go out to others, or trample them because they are different?

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