Through Many Tribulations…

With the election decided, many are happy with the results. Others however believe that the new leaders of this United States will bring ruin and chaos (this would have happened even if the other side won as well). For the Christian however, I would like to remind them about a passage that I came across while reading for my small group. I hope that this passage will help them navigate through the new climate that we will be experiencing in the U.S.

The Apostle Paul’s Ministry through the Asia Minor

In Acts 13-14, Paul would enter the city’s synagogues of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and proclaim the gospel to the Jews and proselytized Gentiles. Many came to believe in the gospel message of Jesus Christ, but the rest did not. The non-believing Jews sought to undo Paul’s ministry by causing the Gentiles to be in opposition towards Paul.

So in every city, as Paul sought to preach and minister, there was an opposition. This caused confusion in the churches he was planting. But even through opposition, Paul kept serving the churches.

The churches saw all the persecution and suffering that Paul was enduring for them. They could have been wondering why would such a man endure all this for the sake of this gospel message of Christ? Paul’s answer was this:

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

-Acts 14:22

The Current Political Climate and Christ’s Call for Christians

Paul was enduring the cause of Christ through cultural, political and physical obstacles. He endured so much pain so that people would come and see the greatness of Jesus Christ and seek to be part of His bride, the church, by repenting and believing on His name and obeying His Word. Each obstacle has its own hurdles.

Cultural Obstacles

Paul, having a Jewish background, was seeking to proclaim a message that His own people rejected. Along with that, he was proclaiming the gospel to people that did not have a Jewish background. The Gentiles of that area had a heritage from the north. Paul was battling on two fronts: one with the Jews and one with the Gentiles. In the US, each city has unique cultures. Sometimes those cultures are in opposition to Christ. The Church has to learn to endure such backlashes.

Political Obstacles

In Acts 13:50 the opposing Jews sought political help to go against Paul. It says,

But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

The opponents of Christ will find worldly courts, authorities and governments to side with them. This battle tactic still exists in our churches. But just like Paul and Barnabas, we must not let such things stop Christ’s ministry. Even though they got kicked out of the district, they would later return to that hostile environment for the sake of the believing community.

Physical Obstacles

The fury of the unbelieving community towards Paul eventually manifested into physical abuse. It says in Acts 14:19,

They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

The message of the gospel when fully opposed will bring forth bloodshed from the church. It will come from her members. It will come from her leaders. Paul never sought revenge against those that stoned and dragged him. Rather he kept is focus on serving the growing churches in those cities.

The Churches in the US are currently not enduring this type of opposition. But their will be a time when stones will be through at her congregations. When that time comes, does the current Church have this mindset similar to that of Stephen the martyr? Or will we have an attitude of vengeance? Yes there is a level to which we need to defend ourselves but when I look at Paul, Stephen and other examples of the faith, they endured stoning without throwing stones back.

Remember: Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God

Many want to go back to a time when Christianity was enduring peace. I wish that too but biblically speaking, final peace comes when Christ returns. Peace has already been completed through the blood of Christ for the believing community. Let us find our hope in that and be ready as Paul was for the tribulations to come.

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