When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.
5 But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
Sowing Seeds of Division
When there is a social change on the scale of Christianity, there will be opposition and division. In this socially accepting age we avoid the kind of conflict that lets ideas wrestle for supremacy in the market place. We have reduced all religious ideas to an equal level of hopeful nonsense. Each religion gives us something positive to say over someone’s grave when they have died. However, religion is more and more marginalized from public life. We contend that each person is allowed to believe whatever they want behind closed doors, in the privacy of their own home. However, that is not the story in the book of Acts. In Acts Paul and his companions go straight into the public square and they look for other religious and social gatherings to infiltrate. then, when at all possible, they speak out truths that directly contradict the teachings of the majority.
The secular humanism that we have adopted as our majority religion today is not compatible with Christianity. Pure capitalism and consumerism exploits people and works with people’s greed and not against it. The ideas that control public life in the west are not Christian, they are part of a godless belief system that exalts the individual and promises pleasures without responsibility. When authentic Christians challenge the madness that runs the world we are called intolerant, bigoted, or hateful. The problem is that when you love people and you find them in error, it may seem arrogant, but it is cowardly and unhelpful to leave the lies which we live by unchallenged. It is also contradictory that people who say that we should all allow everyone to have their own beliefs will not allow us to have ours. Of course, they can’t. Their universal dictate is that everyone leaves everyone else alone. Our universal dictate is that we are all interconnected and because that is so, we bring grace and truth. People love grace when it affirms the choices they are making. They often hate truth when it brings them from the darkness into the light.
Things were no different in Paul’s day. When some people saw their deeds in the light of God’s truth, they repented. Others fought bitterly against what they perceived was a new way – yet it was the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan of salvation.
May I allow you to challenge and change me in accordance with your truth. May I not hide your presence in my life when I live in public. May I not be a coward when conflict arises.
- Where did Paul go in this passage?
- What was the initial affect of his preaching?
- Why did conflict arise?
- Where do we see conflict between the message of the world and the gospel?
- Why don’t we see more conflict between people who want to proclaim God in public life and those who want to hide?