I’ve been preaching through the Book of Acts this spring/summer. It’s been a lot of fun seeing how the Holy Spirit called and equipped ordinary men and women to spread the Good News of Jesus. Yesterday, while I was studying I was forced to stop and consider a scripture that is easy to move past. Luke records in Acts 14:19-20
“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconic and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”
Opponents came from miles around to oppose Paul. They stoned him and dragged him outside of the city. The stoning was so bad, so severe that the crowd believed that Paul was dead. So they left. I assume that Paul was unconscious for the crowds to believe he was dead. The disciples in the area gather around Paul- and he was able to get up and go back (!) into the city.
Isn’t this a picture of how the church should live in the world? This is a picture of community. We have so many brothers and sisters who are physically, mentally, and spiritually abused and beaten- yet we will often leave them behind because ministry takes a lot of time. But the believers show us how to care for the one in our midst who is left for dead. When we feel like we can no longer go on, it is our fellow brothers and sisters who surround us, gather us up, and help us put one foot in front of the other.
If you read this- meditate on this text today. How must have Paul felt to be opposed like this? How would it change his ministry? His outlook? What would his response to the beating be? Do we surround those who appear defeated? Or do we gather them up to bring healing into their world?