A Reasonable Reaction (Part II)
In the first part of this series, we looked at how Paul and Silas, even in the face of a miracle, were focused on their mission to spread the Good News of Jesus, whatever it took. In keeping their mission at the forefront and in reacting reasonably to God’s miraculous earthquake, the jailor in charge of them—and his entire family—was saved and baptized into Christ.
“The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, ‘Let those men go!’ So the jailer told Paul, ‘The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.’” (Acts 16:35-36)
Much like the miraculous earthquake that opened the chains and doors of the jail, this seemed like a gift of freedom. Paul and Silas were going to be freed, simple as that. But instead of reacting emotionally or hastily, Paul and Silas kept their heads about them.
“But Paul replied, ‘They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!’” (Acts 16:37)
Paul reacted reasonably to the news of being set free. He knew his rights as a Roman citizen were being violated and he was not going to stand for it. We need to know our rights as American citizens so we too can stand firm when these rights are violated. Things in our American culture are being politicized at an alarming rate and, as a result, rights are often violated. In the first amendment to the Constitution it states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Our United States Congress will not make a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion.
Yet, in our great nation, we are growing accustomed to hearing stories of small businesses being sued and protested because the owners exercised their freedom of religion within the business they own! This has happened with bakeries, T-shirt shops, construction companies—the list goes on and on. And it’s not just small businesses, either: businesses who are known to have Christian owners or values, such as Chic-fil-A, are often protested and denied business opportunities.
It gets worse on college campuses. Christian students and organizations are often targeted on college campuses and used as scapegoats for all bigotry and intolerance. One recent example of discrimination and rights violations comes from the University of Iowa.
The Christian student group, Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC), was kicked off campus in late 2017 after an openly gay student claimed to have been denied a leadership position because of his sexuality. The group claimed it had nothing to do with his sexual orientation but with the fact that he “expressly stated that he rejected BLinC’s religious beliefs and would not follow them.” The group filed a lawsuit against the school in December of 2017, and in February of this year, “Judge Stephanie M. Rose of the U.S. District for the Southern District of Iowa found that the University of Iowa violated the Christian club's First Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion.” This is just one example in several of rights violations, which are continuing to happen in this country merely for political reasons. But we can react reasonably as Paul and Silas did.
“When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city.” (Acts 16:38-39)
They knew their rights and stood up for them. Never once did they lose focus on the mission to bring Jesus to people and never once did they misrepresent Him. They reacted reasonably and not hastily. It is no surprise that it was Paul who wrote these words to Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). We too can react reasonably and stand up for our rights.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.