There’s an amazing story in Acts 13. Paul and Barnabas traveled to Antioch, where they were invited to speak at the synagogue. They did so, and they proclaimed forgiveness of sins through Jesus. The crowds were amazed and asked them to speak again on the following sabbath. “The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord” (Acts 13:44.)
Unfortunately, the Jewish leadership wasn’t so pleased with Paula and Barnabas, and some within the Jewish leadership “stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region” (Acts 13:50).
Here’s the interesting thing to me…the response of Paul and Barnabas to this persecution. We read in vs. 51-52: “So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Isn’t that amazing?
I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I’m doing God’s work and I’m filled with power and people are turning to God, I feel pretty good. But, when, people who are opposed to God’s message get int he way, I get pretty frustrated. I feel anything but “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” As I read about Paul and Barnabas this morning, I started wondering what I (and probably many of us Christians) need to do to feel joy instead of frustration when the ways of this world block our attempts to share God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus.
Here’s my one thought. I’m guessing Paul and Barnabas kept their focus on the lives of all the people who received new life through their efforts, rather than focusing so much on the works of the people who tried to stop them. Sounds like a pretty good lesson in terms of where to place our focus. What do you think? – Pastor Brad