The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers.
Thoughts for Today:My wife and I were watching a movie the other night and like so often these days, Hollywood portrayed Christians as a bunch of unintelligent, narrow-minded, socially illiterate, angry, self-righteous miscreants. In the movie Christians had come out in protest of gay marriage and were accompanied by all the fist shaking, verbal abuse, shouts of condemnation, and posters that the writers could creatively imagine. It was an ugly scene, and unfortunately not too far from the truth.
So often when I see Christians protest aggressively, I wonder what they hope to accomplish by doing so. Sometimes I think we've forgotten the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't come out in protest of prostitutes (tax collectors or lepers); he didn't organize marches; paint posters; or coin hateful phrases. Rather, He was friend to the dregs of society. His ministry was change, not from the outside in, but from the inside out. One person at a time.
In our passage today, the commander had come and arrested Paul, placed him in chains, then took him away from the mob of the crowd into the barracks, because he could not "get at the truth because of the uproar." I wonder if our young people today (and those who have not made up their minds on a particular topic) are swayed positively by our angry protests. Perhaps they go to their rooms symbolically as well -- closing their ears. Think about it, what is more compelling to you: the calm voice of peace and acceptance of all ("Come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you peace"); or the hateful, accusatory shouts of a mob? Unfortunately, Christians have lost their voice of peace and acceptance and exchanged it for an angry demand for governmental protection against sin. Does that sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me?
Questions to Ponder:For the last two hundred plus years, Christians have had the majority in this country. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling this majority slip away. The legislative and legal changes we've experienced over the last forty years are pretty clear. The solution however is not to insist that government legislate Christian values. Yes, there is a place -- even a responsibility -- in democracy to voice our values to ensure that we are properly represented. But that's different from trying to ram our values down people's throats with angry protests. Every time I see another liberal agenda gaining momentum and support from mainstream America, I am not motivated to come out in protest, rather I am encouraged to evangelize -- not against that agenda but for Jesus. When you watch the network news or read a newspaper, feeling shock and outrage because sin is rampant and universally accepted as normal behavior in America, what is your response? To call your congressman, or to invite your next door neighbor to church?