When reading today we see a lot of shady politicians doing a little political maneuvering that ends up keeping Paul to be in prison for over two years. We might tend to think of this as a huge inconvenience for Paul. Certainly this broken system chewed through a huge part of Paul’s life. Imagine what he could have been doing had he not been detained in prison? How many churches could he have encouraged with his presence? How many more churches could he have planted?
Yet, Paul gets a personal word from the LORD that he will stand before Cesar in Rome. Paul knows where he is ultimately headed. Along the way the adversity he faces ends up being opportunities to preach and share the gospel. Some of the very men who were at the heart of Jesus’ crucifixion, heard Paul share the story of the resurrection. The regional Roman governors hear the gospel message along with their Roman guards and others who would have been present.
It seems fitting that the gospel should and would be pressed forward even more in the midst of adversity. It’s not as though Jesus never met with adversity or the early church hadn’t seen adversity before. It seems as though through the book of Act the LORD uses adversity to grow his church.
We’ve all been living through a pandemic and it has changed the way we do a lot of thing. We’ve faced a type of adversity through this virus that isn’t necessarily the fault of an individual or a corrupt system. Regardless of how the virus got here, it’s here, its real (I’ve had it), and it can and does kill some people. We wear masks, wash hands, keep our distance and do all the things they say help stop the spread. It can be easy to lose focus on the gospel and concentrate on keeping one another safe from the virus. Yet, as I shared with a few men the other day, “Keeping people safe from the virus is important and it shouldn’t be dismissed but our mission has never been safety. Our mission is to share the gospel in our community and around the world. Certainly the virus has created a challenging climate, but it hasn’t changed our calling. It may have also unlocked some doors to ministry.”
We see that with Paul in these chapters. The adversity of dealing with a corrupt political system actually put Paul in a place to share the gospel with Roman guards, governors, an ultimately Cesar himself. When I had the virus and was in the hospital it gave me opportunity to talk to several nurses about the gospel that I would have never met otherwise. It’s also given us opportunity to minister to our neighbors and through technology to share hope with those who tune in to our services online both locally and from around the state and nation.
Father, thank you that even when we face adversity we know that you are with us. Thank you that you are a God who often turns the adversity we face into opportunity to minister to others and share our faith. We ask that you give us wisdom for the days that we live in to reach our neighbors and friends with the power of the gospel. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.