Acts 18:5-6 ESV
“When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’”
This has been somewhat my experience with the institutional (state 501c3) church. Whenever I have been really serious about my relationship with the Lord, following him in obedience to his commands, and teaching or sharing what his word teaches, I have faced much opposition from people in the church and from church leadership where we attended services.
Now, I was not out of order. I was not usurping authority over anyone or speaking out of turn in public gatherings. I was in submission to the leadership even when I disagreed with them, as long as they did not ask me to sin against God. So, I did not bring this treatment upon myself.
What I was up against, though, was institutional religion based on the traditions of men mixed in with Scripture. I was faced with leadership who were lax in their own personal relationships with the Lord and/or who were following men rather than God, and/or who had compromised the gospel to make it more appealing to the flesh of humans.
So, when I shared the truth of what the Scriptures taught or when I stood on the truth, sometimes I was rebuked, and I was asked to take a lesser view of such things and to compromise and to soften the message so as not to offend people. Or I was accused falsely of what I did not do or say.
I have also faced this kind of treatment on some Christian websites and a particular social media site. In all of these cases the Lord led me to leave and to go someplace else. I had shared with them the truth of what God’s word teaches, but they rejected it, some of them vehemently. So, the Lord sent me where he could use me where there were people willing to listen.
Acts 18:7-8 ESV
“And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.”
Prior to 2004, I had not used the internet for purposes of sharing the gospel, at least, not that I recall. I used it more for social and educational purposes. The ministry I was involved in most of my life was with people face to face in traditional institutional churches, and then some with a college ministry my husband and I had out of our home for 7.5 years.
But in 2004 the Lord impressed it heavily on my heart that the church, the body of Christ, was in crisis – the crisis of supremacy of Jesus Christ. He told me that it was “indistinguishable between the lives of evangelical Christians and the world.”
And he reminded me that we need to get back to the basics. We need to put our focus on Jesus and the cross of Christ instead of on the teachings of man. And he encouraged me that I need to keep teaching the Word of God, and that I need to keep listening to him and to keep obeying him.
He said to me, “Tell the people what God tells you to tell them and leave the results in God’s hands.” He reminded me of his calling on my life, to be a teacher of true faith, and of the clear sense of his purpose for me, and of the urgency to fan into flame the gift of God in my life for his purposes.
And then he gave me my present calling to write down what he teaches me from my times with him in his word each day and to place those on the internet so that “a herald” could “run with it.” And he said to me that NOW was my time, for such a time as this I was placed upon the earth.
So, I had been in the institutional church ministering to people face to face, getting mostly rejected and persecuted for my walk of faith, and then the Lord had me leave institutional religion, though I still held on for a little while, and he put me on the internet where what he has me write is going to people all over the world. Glory to God!
Although I surely don’t see all the many ways in which the Lord is using what he gives me to write, I do see some fruit for my labor in people’s lives, but not so much in person as it is on the internet. But my assignment is just to write, and to post it on the internet, and the Lord takes it from there.
Acts 18:9-11 ESV
“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”
As I mentioned earlier in this writing, I have faced much opposition on the internet, too, but not as much presently where the Lord has me as some I have faced in other locations on the internet. And I still face some in person with people face to face, but the Lord keeps encouraging me to continue.
So, I find this passage of Scripture particularly encouraging, especially as I know we are coming into a season when those who are seriously following Jesus with their lives are going to come under severe persecution here in America where I live. Yet, we are not to be afraid of what is coming!
But I must put in a word of caution to anyone reading this passage who may consider this as a general promise to all followers of Christ that we will not have to face persecution. Clearly that is not the message, for Paul faced much persecution in his time of ministry for Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the Lord does give us reprieves, though. And that is a blessing, for sure. I praise him that I am counted worthy to suffer for righteousness’ sake, but I am thankful for those times when I don’t have to suffer and where I am being encouraged and strengthened in my faith.
The important message here, though, is that we are not to fear opposition from men or women or children, but we are to keep on speaking what the Lord gives us to speak from his word, and we are not to be silent out of fear of what humans may do to us. For our Lord is with us, and he will carry us through it all, and he will accomplish his purposes through it, too.
Awaken the Dawn
An Original Work / January 15, 2013
Based off Psalm 57 (NIV 1984)
O my God, have mercy on me!
In the Lord, my soul takes refuge.
In the shadow of Your wings, Lord,
I find shelter till the storms pass.
I cry out to my God Most High.
He fulfills His purpose for me.
He sent His Son to die for me,
So I could be saved.
I am in the midst of lions;
Men whose teeth are spears and arrows;
Whose tongues are sharp; words accusing.
They spread a net, my feet to catch.
They dug a pit, in hopes I’d fall.
O God, be exalted o’er all.
Let Your glory shine to all men,
So they may be saved.
Steadfast is my heart, O my God;
I will sing of all Your wonders.
Awake, my soul! Sing praise to God!
Early I will rise and praise Him!
I’ll praise God among the nations;
I will sing among the peoples.
God’s love reaches to the heavens,
So we may be saved.