The book of Acts, chapters 21-23, are always challenging to me. These chapters give a detailed account of Paul’s transition from a traveling missionary to an incarcerated prisoner. Or. as Paul said in Philemon 1:9 (ESV), “yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—”
I know there is much to be learned from these chapters, but I also know much is difficult for me to grasp. The truths here must be mined like gold; they are not gems laying on the ground. I do see the overarching wisdom and power of God working through an obedient life. Paul’s obedience gave him time to listen to the Holy Spirit and write. It’s because of Paul’s new assignment that we have much of the New Testament.
Submitting to Leadership
Paul submitted to the Church’s leadership even though he knew they were acting out of fear. Paul could have dug his heels in and “righteously” preached “freedom” and the sin of fear; he did not. He submitted, paid money out of his pocket to conform to the direction of the leadership and, despite being given the option by the Holy Spirit to flee, Paul stayed on course and let God’s plan unfold. Paul didn’t call fire down from heaven. Paul was able to submit and flow with the sequence of events because he was confident in his Savior.
Amid the rioting and just after his beating, Paul found an opportunity to preach with boldness. Again, Paul demonstrated his trust in Jesus. He didn’t allow himself to submit to fear but, instead, saw the circumstance as a tool Jesus gave him to further the Gospel of Jesus. That’s hanging tough.
Few, if any of us, have faced similar, lengthy testing of our faith in Jesus as Paul endured. Nevertheless, we all should be walking close enough to our Savior to be ready, should He ask us to suffer for Him.
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