“And there they kept evangelizing” (Acts 14:6, HCSB).
This is one of those days when I get to the end of the day and find myself really weary. Some would say “weary from well-doing,” though I question how much “well” I’m really “doing.”
I’ll spare you the details of all my troubles because as hard as I think I have it, my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 and 14, who were undertaking the task God had assigned them.
In Acts 13:2 God sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey: “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.'”
Now here’s a quick rundown of what happened to them along the way as they endeavored to accomplish their assignment from God:
- At Paphos on the island of Cyprus “Elymas the sorcerer opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith” (vs 13:8).
- At Perga John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13).
- In Antioch of Pisidia the Jews incited the prominent women and men to run them out of town: “They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district” (vs 13:50).
- The same thing happened at Iconium: “The Jews who refused to believe stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers” (Acts 14:2) and they had to flee the city when they learned of a plot to seize them and stone them to death (vs. 14:5).
- They proceeded to Lystra but this time they didn’t flee the city and “some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead” (vs. 14:20).
Yet, Paul and Barnabas kept evangelizing in spite of all the physical and mental abuse they suffered along the way!
They kept doing what God called them to do fearlessly and without complaint!
My kids have these tiny robotic bugs that move quickly across a smooth surface. These energetic micro robots have the ability to switch direction upon coming into contact with an object in their path and seem to possesses an uncanny sense of balance and flip to their feet when turned on their backs.
This robotic bug behavior seems to describe how Paul and Barnabas reacted to trouble. If trouble got in their path, they just switched direction and kept on doing what they were called to do. If persecution knocked them down, they just flipped to their feet and kept on doing what they were called to do.
But that’s not the end of the story.
After encountering all these problems during their missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas went back and encouraged all the disciples in all the cities where they had preached the gospel and suffered persecution and actually told them: “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God” (vs. 14:23).
So, while my tale of woe is insignificant compared to the troubles Paul and Barnabas encountered, my troubles are, after all, significant to me, and yours significant to you.
And no matter how right, wrong, good, or bad I do the tasks God has assigned me to do, there’s always going to be trouble along the way into the Kingdom of God!
What I need to learn is this: Serving God is not about what we do or how we do it, it’s about the One whom we serve.
So, if we are faithful and obedient to God, then God will empower us, like the robotic bugs, to bounce back and to get back on our feet no matter what troubles we encounter along the way.
“In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12, HCSB).