The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 17:1-9 we find Paul and Barnabas in Thessalonica. Although this is Greek territory, notice that the opposition is from the Jews. After Paul and Silas have spent three weeks reasoning with the Jews about Jesus as Lord, they are turned upon by a Jewish mob. The mob presents them to the authorities. What’s the accusation? They are the people who have turned the world upside down with teaching that Jesus is some sort of a king.
The anger of the Jewish leaders was certainly partially motivated by the Christians’ doctrine. Yet we also notice there were many converts. This may well have angered them more. The teaching of the synagogue was not holding people together. When the Gospel was presented, even the Jewish people were flocking to Jesus. The leaders were affronted.
When Christianity attempts to compromise with society the message inevitably becomes blurred. It makes no difference. If we agree on everything, who would want to change? But if Jesus makes unique claims, as he does, there is a demand for change. We call people to repentance and to receive Christ’s forgiveness for sin. That’s exactly the kind of attitude that turns the world upside down.
As it turns out, in Acts 17, the city officials take a bond from Jason and from Paul and Silas. They don’t seem to be dangerous to the community, at least not immediately. They aren’t going around killing people or stealing things. The situation does require more investigation. However, imprisonment was not considered necessary.
What of our Christian life? Does it show the difference between salvation by the grace of Christ through faith alone? Does it make little difference in the world? I pray that there will be enough evidence to make it clear that some are Christians.
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