We will continue this week in a review of how two devout men of God were able to have such a major impact on the future of Christianity. Paul and Silas were definitely not politically correct.
One day as they were going to the place of prayer, a girl who was a fortune teller began following them and shouting,” These men are servants of the most high God, who are telling you the way to be saved” (Acts 16:16-17). While what she said was true her manner was a distraction to Paul and Silas and a hinderance to their work. After a few days Paul turned to and addressed the girl, who he perceived to be demon possessed. It seemed that her abilities to read fortunes were satanically induced and clearly not from God. As is frequently the case, there was a group of businessmen in town who had devised a scheme to capitalize on the young girl’s misfortune. When Paul rebuked the spirit, in the name of Jesus, the spirit of divination left her and so did her fortune telling abilities. Her lost abilities infuriated the owners who viewed her as a broken commodity. Paul and Silas saw her as a soul to be rescued. They were not politically correct. Perhaps this tragedy best displays its wicked scheme every day in divorce courts across the land where children are ‘bought and sold’ by warring parents who refuse to stay married. Paul and Silas saw the life of a young girl they saved from demonic possession as tragic, and her owners as wicked. They decided to act without regard to the ‘political’ fallout. Within hours the girl’s owners recognized that their hope of making money was gone. Under the guise of being civic minded, these businessmen seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace where they were marched through a ‘kangaroo’ court and slandered religiously and racially. They were accused of the crime of being ‘Jews’. The fact that they were Jewish had no bearing on anything, but it did. Much like the modern-day tactics of calling someone a ‘radical right-wing fundamentalist’ or some other less-than-flattering title, the intent by the businessmen was to incite prejudice against Paul and Silas. It worked. They were never given a fair hearing. They were accused of advocating unlawful customs and without an opportunity to respond, they were stripped, beaten and thrown into jail. They clearly displayed no political connection in Philippi. Once thrown into jail, they responded with singing hymns and holding a prayer meeting. Their dependence was not on politics but on God. It is that kind of dependence that the liberal/progressive world wants to destroy because against that they find no effective offense. It is imperative that Christians be reminded that in the worst of times, God is still sovereignly in control and our confidence must always be in Him, not ourselves, a political party, or any human being. And nothing more irritates Satan. People everywhere are looking for real Christians who will practice their faith. In extraordinary times God uses extraordinary men, but those men must be willing to answer the call, whatever that call involves.
As Christians we must be aware of what our politicians are doing and know just what their limits are. These politicians that Paul and Silas had to deal with were corrupt and had participated in an illegal act. Rather than using their power and authority to execute fair and honest justice, the magistrates sat back while the crowd was manipulated by the evil businessmen. (Do we see that going on today…follow the $$$.) They finally aided and abetted them by ordering the two ‘preachers’ to be beaten. Then they threw them into prison. Paul was not politically ignorant, and he fully understood the political ramifications of this issue. Paul and Silas had been the victims of a hugh miscarriage of justice, for Paul was not only a citizen of Heaven as a Christian, but he was a citizen of Rome as a member of the human race. Its citizens were empowered with certain constitutional rights which were insured by the rule of law. (How many politicians today try to void our Constitution through societal ignorance of rights?) Like our generation, that society was in danger of being lost because of human nature and the propensity of men toward evil…planted in the beginning by Satan. God had sovereignly ordained that Paul be a Roman citizen with certain rights. Many members of that generation did not possess those rights. Paul fully understood that with every privilege comes corresponding responsibility apart from which those privileges are forfeited. Paul knew what many Americans seem to have forgotten; he understood that others would come after him and he owed it to them to confront this evil or else they too would be vulnerable to similar treatment…thus my dedication to the Florida Action Committee and NARSOL. Tragically today, most Americans and many Christians…many in leadership positions…have bowed to the god of personal convenience and ease. People refuse to stand up for what is right because they do not want to be bothered or offend anyone. Apathy and complacency seem to be the order of our day with continuing moral decay and the erosion of our freedoms and civility being the price we are willing to pay. When will we as a Christian nation be willing to say, ‘enough is enough’? The church of the living God is being forced into the closet and its proponents are being ridiculed and arrested. Unfortunately, with tragic consequences, most Christians have chosen to withdraw. Satan is delighted with the results.
I remember how America used to be. The television broadcast day began with a devotional and ended with prayer and the national anthem, as did every school day in the public schools. I had friends who died in Vietnam to preserve those values and defend those being forced to renounce their beliefs in God. I cannot help but wonder what they would think today? When they died, abortion was a crime, homosexuality was viewed as deviant behavior, divorce was relatively rare, our education system was the envy of the world, fathers were honored on sitcoms, families could watch a comedian’s routine without being compromised or embarrassed., and a child being murdered by a fellow student while attending the local high school was inconceivable. The president having an affair with an intern half his age in the oval office and then using his Cabinet to perpetrate his cover-up was incomprehensible; and that he would finally admit it and be exonerated by the Senate of the United States of America was simply unimaginable. The country believed in and practiced free enterprise and the thought of the government owning two car companies as well as controlling healthcare was unthinkable.
Paul understood his responsibility to leave a legacy for those who would come after him. It is nothing short of sinful for Christians in a free and democratic society to be disengaged from civil affairs. Christians must, of all people in society, be more involved in politics; taking the time to stay informed and exercise their responsibility by voting their consciences. Who in our society is better qualified to serve in public office than a well-informed citizen who is grounded in Biblical truth? These office holders will be the authorities that will pass laws that shape our lives.
The great moral issues of today…homosexuality and abortion, or even demanding that a president be held accountable for an immoral affair and lying about it under oath…are being accepted as part of life. Those who bring it to the forefront are experiencing the sting of being branded a troublemaker or right-winged, self-righteous, religious fanatic by the press. No one enjoys being marginalized or slandered publicly. But the greater pain and damage comes when a fellow Christian church leader goes before the press and condemns such commentary, especially from the pulpit, as being unloving and judgmental. They declare that in their leadership…pulpit…they only ‘preach Christ and His forgiving love.’ Whether intentional or not, they stir up trouble for those Christians who truly believe the Scriptures in condemning such acts as wicked and immoral.
Once again next week I will deviate from world situations dealing with the liberal/progressive/communist threat and look at the impact that pastors and Christians can have if they will accept the fortitude God offers His servants. If Christians choose to retreat, America will become an ancient civilization future generations will read about in history books.
“…because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly” (Philippians 1:14)