People who don’t like you, or what you stand for, will sometimes stop at nothing to shut you up. Especially when the things your faith calls you to live for are in direct opposition to theirs.
In this passage, Paul was speaking truth but they couldn’t stand it. They rashly called for him to be pulled down and flogged. They were ready to punish him and punish him in a very painful way just because they thought he would change his mind if they did.
If you don’t know what flogging is, it was a form of punishment where the condemned individual would be held or tied down with their bare back exposed. They would then be whipped and beaten with sticks and leather straps until the those giving the sentencing thought they had learned their lesson.
These men were ready to beat Paul and the only thing that saved him was one Roman who knew the laws. Paul questioned their decision, how a Roman citizen could be punished without even being formally accused, and upon hearing this the Roman Centurion stepped in.
For you and I though, there is a very real take home. People in opposition to our faith will do anything they can to silence our voice. Not because they’re evil, and not because they are the “enemy” but because they are still blind, in the dark, and can’t even fathom the truth we know. So they fight it.
The way we respond to persecution so important. Paul didn’t kick and scream and start a revolt. He didn’t complain and cry and turn his back on the faith. He didn’t become a doormat, either. He made his claims. He fought for his case. But he was gracious during it. He didn’t call others names, he didn’t attack their character. He remembered a very hard but real truth. Jesus died for his persecutors and followers alike. He died so that both those who loved him and those who hated him could experience life transformed. He then encourages us to do the same. He encourages us to remember the people we find ourselves in opposition with are people whom God loves and people that he one day wishes to know.
Who are your persecutors? Who do you find yourself in opposition against? Do you remember in the moments of tension that those are people that God loves, and wants to know, and calls us to show grace towards?