Persecution & Defense
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 22.
In Acts 22, Paul is standing before the people giving his defense. I want to simply note two things we can learn from how Paul handles persecution for his faith. I encourage you to read Acts 22 first to understand the context.
First, Paul leads with his testimony. In verse 6, he tells the crowd, “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me.” Then he tells the story of how he met Jesus. He tells the people who he is and what Jesus has done in his life. In our politicized world, we Christians often lead with defensive claims about violations of our rights and religious liberties. Paul gives us some helpful wisdom. He doesn’t say, “Everyone is entitled their opinion, this is
America Rome!” He simply says, “Hey, I’m just like you except I’ve met Jesus.” There are times for an intellectual defense of our faith. There are times to fight for religious liberty. But day in and day out, we should be telling people what the gospel has done in our lives.
Second, there is a time when it is OK to lay claim to legal rights. We could begin to think, “Well, a real Christian will just lay down his life sacrificially like Jesus.” While that is true, Paul shows us an example of a godly defense. He shares his faith with those persecuting him, but as he is about to be flogged he says, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25 ESV) We have such a blessing as American Christians to live in a place where it is a legal right to worship God as we see fit. That is a good thing. It is something we want to fight for. However, let’s always remember to fight in a way that we don’t destroy our ability to say, “Hey I’ve met Jesus, can I tell you what’s he’s done in my life?” It is possible to win the battle for religious liberty, and lose the war for people’s souls.
Grace & Peace.