Thursday, October 26, 2023
The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried?"
When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, "What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!"
So the commander went over and asked Paul, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?"
"Yes, I certainly am," Paul replied.
Paul knew that government officials could be corrupt and abusive. Still, both he and the apostle Peter wrote about respecting authorities. They emphasized the importance of obeying those in authority, living good lives as followers of Jesus and as citizens, and being ready to suffer for doing good if necessary.* History and tradition tell us that both Paul and Peter died as martyrs. However, they used their legal rights and opportunities to protect their freedom and ministries when they could. They also didn't want the name of Jesus or his followers burdened with the stain of being political rebels. They called disciples to respect, honor, and obey unless the government's intrusion conflicted with the clear call of Jesus. Can we do less in our turbulent, polarized, and social-media-interconnected world and still claim to follow Jesus?
* Peter's influence is in our first set of Related Scripture Readings while Paul's is in the second set.
O Father, I know that you value life from conception to death.^ You hold each person as precious. You want no person to be abused because of his or her race, gender, or social standing. In our politically strident world of such deep animosity and division, please help us find a way to look past the flawed people in politics. Empower us to hang on to the most important values to us as followers of Jesus so that we can help to redeem our culture. We need your leading, Holy Spirit, so that we can be salt to a culture in decay and light to a world of increasing darkness.^^ We ask for your help, O LORD. In Jesus' name. Amen.
^ While several prophets and leaders spoke about being called when in the womb, David offered the incredible words of Psalm 139:13-16 for the whole congregation of God's people to say together. Life's sanctity is found in God's creative actions to make a person a person, whether at creation in Genesis 1:26-27 or from her or his conception in the womb, as David reminds us in Psalm 139:13-16 and as we use these verses to join him in proclaiming that God is Creator who is always with us. As people made in God's image and as heirs to God's promise (Galatians 3:29) and as we anticipate the joyous family we will be in the age to come (Revelation 7:9-12), this respect for human dignity must also be reflected in the way we treat each other, regardless of race, gender, social standing, political affiliation, or any other characteristic.
^^ Matthew 5:13-16
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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