This week we’re studying a story where Paul found himself arrested after yet another riot.  It was partly for his protection, so the authorities could figure out if he was really a rabble rouser, or simply a victim of the crowds who were threatened by the Christian message.

In that time, he appeals to Caesar, his right as a roman citizen.  This frustrates a couple more local leaders, including King Agrippa, who ask to hear him speak so they can figure out what to say to Caesar about their reasons for sending Paul to speak with him.

After hearing his story they agree he’s no criminal, he’s a victim of angry crowds, but that he can’t be freed since he appealed to Caesar.  I asked you why he would have done that, since it kept him in chains rather than free.

I think it’s because he is not driven by his safety, security or freedom.  He’s driven by the good news of Jesus Christ, and wanting to share it with everyone he possibly can.  That included King Agrippa, as we read yesterday he tried to convert him in what the King described as very short order.

I think it also included Caesar – he wants to share the good news of Jesus with the Emperor.

Why?  He recognizes the influence of powerful people.  If a powerful Roman ruler, even the Emperor, can become a Christian, they might provide protection to the entire Christian minority that is being persecuted, they will influence others to become Christians, and everything changes.

In some societies this is still the case.  A tribal chief becomes a Christian, and as a matter of course, so does their family and village.  Not coercion, it’s simply how their communal society works.

This is really relevant to us today, not because we each have access to a king or a right to appeal to the emperor, but because we have more influence than ever before.  With social media, email and modern communications, we have far more influence than we ever imagined in the past.

Monday, I shared the story of religious persecution in Iraq, and how powerful people have finally begun to notice and react.  But there is always room for more.  One article suggests six ways to try and do something that matters in this situation:

  1. Pray – In informed and specific ways
  2. Give – to organizations working directly on the ground
  3. Write to your MP
  4. Sign a petition
  5. Raise awareness on social media

That’s pretty specific, but there are ways to share good news with the people in your life, and the influencers in our society.  Tell your local MP or other politicians you pray for their wellbeing, they are under an incredible amount of stress.  See where that goes.  Whenever you can, talk about how your faith influences how you vote, how you work, how you parent, how you live.  Not in a pushy way, but a way that intrigues others and makes them ask more questions.

Challenge: Work your way through that list – Pray, Give, Write, Sign, Social – about an issue you care about as a follower of Jesus.

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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Two Dates to Remember:

  • Our Outdoor Movie Night Returns – September 19th at 7:30pm in Ajax – More Info