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.”
We often think of the earliest Christians as being under constant attack. We have seen some of this idea in the life of Saul both before and after his conversion. However, Acts 9:31 tells us that the conflict was not continual. The Church in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria went through a time of peace. People were living together as Christians, fearing the Lord. The Holy Spirit was encouraging them.
Throughout history there have been times of persecution but there have also been times of peace and rest. Often during the time of persecution the Church grows explosively. That time is followed by a time of peace, as those who would oppose Jesus grow tired of the fight and many are converted. After a time, persecution and conflict arise again.
The Bible speaks very clearly about the sinful nature. By nature, those who are not trusting in Jesus tend to be hostile to him. After all, we are wired to want change that we can cause. We are also generally convinced that people are good by nature, except for people who are bad, self-centered, and greedy for power. Granted, those positions are logically inconsistent, but most of us would like to put up with them anyway. When the Gospel interferes, telling us that we are really bad by nature and that our only hope is in something we can’t do, but rather in believing that Jesus is able to put our sinful nature to death . . . well, we don’t normally like that. It creaes conflict. But in fact, it’s the Gospel which wins.
As we find ourselves on the pendulum, swinging between times of conflict and times of rest, may we have patience and confidence in God’s grace.
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