A Reasonable Reaction (Part I)
We love stories, and one of our favorite ways to experience stories is through film. We love movies; in fact, this past weekend, Avengers: Endgame smashed box office records in its debut, claiming the largest domestic opening of all time with $350 million and the largest worldwide opening of all time at $1.2 billion. It has grossed more in its opening weekend than most films gross in their entire theatrical run. Many of the stories we love are about people who have a mission and will do whatever it takes to see that mission through. In Acts 16, we read a story about Paul and Silas sticking to their mission, no matter the cost.
Paul and Silas were in Philippi and, while there, a slave girl, who was possessed by a spirit that enabled her to tell the future, began following them around shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved” (Acts 16:16-17). This went on so long that Paul became exasperated with her and cast the demon out of her. The girl’s masters were profiting greatly off her ability, but once the demon was gone the girl could no longer predict the future and the masters’ hopes of wealth were shattered. They caused an uproar and a mob formed against Paul and Silas. City officials ordered them stripped, beaten with rods, and thrown into prison (Acts 16:18-23). What did Paul and Silas do after being beaten and thrown in prison? They sang praises to God!
“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!” (Acts 16:25-26)
Paul and Silas’ reaction to their situation pointed to God. The other prisoners were listening to their prayers and hymns. Paul and Silas understood that their lives served as examples of God’s love, grace, and mercy. We have that same opportunity. We can point to God with our reaction to life’s circumstances.
The miracle of an earthquake happened, the doors flew open, and the chains fell off of every prisoner. They were free! God had set them free, but Paul and Silas did not run out of the jail toward freedom. They experienced the miracle, but they kept their heads about them and remained on mission.
“The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’” (Acts 16:27-28)
The first thing Paul and Silas did was save the man’s life. This act of kindness drove the jailer to his knees and he asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.’ And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.” (Acts 16:31-33)
Paul and Silas were focused on their mission to spread the Good News no matter what. A miracle was given to them but they did not react hastily. Instead, they put the mission, and consequently others, ahead of themselves—and in so doing, an entire family was saved to Jesus Christ. Are you living with that mission-first attitude? When God gives you a miracle, do you look around for those you can bless?
One phrase the heroes repeat throughout Endgame, before and during their mission, is, “Whatever it takes.” We love stories about people who will do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission. Are you willing to bring Jesus to those around you, whatever it takes? Let’s live our lives with a mission-first attitude.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.