Obedience And Persecution
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. 5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious,[a] took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. “ Acts 17:1-5 NKJV
As followers of Jesus Christ, we will often find ourselves at odds with the world as we serve Him and represent Jesus as His Ambassadors in this life. Those can be uncomfortable and disconcerting times. We all have a purpose of service to Him and we will all face some form of persecution because we are His. It is an unavoidable reality and the Word tells us even to expect this.
In today’s verse, we see Paul living out his life for Jesus and just being obedient in his service to Christ he winds up facing resistance. When you put Jesus before self and all else the world will become very uncomfortable with that and persecute you even though you are simply living for Jesus. Paul and Silas spoke in the synagogue and merely shared the truth to set people free and they were being set free. The people were coming to follow Jesus at the Word of God that Paul and Silas shared. Paul and Silas were doing what they had been called to do and they were winning converts.
The Jews were jealous of that as you would expect. Since they could not refute the truth of what Paul taught, the opted to forgo discussion and moved right on to “thuggery”. They moved to stir up the anger of the city against Paul and Silas. The Jews could not answer the truth of their words so they chose to attack the messengers of the Lord. Pride closed their ears to God and they chose the comfort of what they knew over the Word of God. Since they could not attack God, they chose to attack His Ambassadors.
The world cannot answer the truth of the Word that is in you, the truth that comes out as you live your life for Jesus. Since they can’t answer the truth of the Word (Jesus is the Word) they will attack the Ambassadors of the Word which is you. When you walk in obedience to the Lord and live His Word, the world will lash out at you. Don’t think it strange when this happens.
It is a badge of honor when your life for Jesus has struck a note of jealousy in the deceived world and they become stirred up against you. Don’t worry when you are on the receiving end of anger from the world. It is not your job to change the world, just to obey and live for Christ. He will move through that obedience to change lives and He will keep His hand on you as you walk through the period of persecution.
J Todd Hostetler