Acts 14


Reading Luke and Acts in 2020

Week 38  |  Acts 14

Acts 14 Reflections and Questions

By Rachel Fullerton
In Acts 14, we find Paul and Barnabas continuing on their journey. They spent some time in Iconium teaching and showing the many wonders of the Lord until they learned they were to be stoned, and fled to Lystra and Derbe, where their work continued. In Lystra, Paul heals a man, which creates a misunderstanding about who Paul and Barnabas are, and in trying to convince the crowds of their mortality, they preach of the good news of God.

As the crowd turns fickle, Paul is stoned, dragged out of the city, only to return to the city, where he and Barnabas set off on their journey once more the next day. They travel to Derbe, and then they went back to Lystra, and then back to Iconium, and then back to Antioch.

Paul and Barnabas went back to the many cities they were run out of because of their teaching. What’s more, they continued their teaching in those cities. In each city, they gained followers through the Holy Spirit, and even when they were "run out of town," they went back to continue to build believers.

It reminds of a modern-day disciple, John Lewis. In the same way that Paul and Barnabas traveled to cities to preach the good news, and were run out of these cities, stoned in these cities, and returned to them nonetheless. John Lewis did the same kind of similar work throughout his career. He returned to the Edmund Pettus Bridge where he was beaten and brought down, only to stand back up, and continue to tell the world to get into "good trouble."

Getting into good trouble for United Methodists means making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It means going from city to city, and retracing our steps back into those cities, returning and making good trouble by making disciples so that the world is transformed. In the 27th verse of this chapter, we learn that Paul and Barnabas “gathered the church together and reported everything that God had accomplished through their activity, and how God has opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.” (CEB) The imagery of that open door is captivating.

As United Methodists in a hurting world, it should be within us to keep that door open for others to walk through it, in their time, which means we continually go back to the hard places and allow the Holy Spirit to work through our activity, and by doing so, transform the world.
How do you deal with people with whom you disagree? In your dealings with other people, in being a disciple, where have you met a listening ear? Did you circle back to those conversations or relationships, which were hard, and continue the conversation or relationship? Did you keep the door open or did you shut it?
  • At the end of this chapter, Paul and Barnabas gathered the church, and then they stayed a while. We find ourselves in a holding pattern, while we experience this COVID-19 pandemic together. We have been in this a while and it could be a while longer, so how are you gathering the church? Are you reaching out to people beyond your own flock? Are you going back to the hard places and allowing the Holy Spirit to work?
  • Right now, we are finding new ways to reach new people. Are you celebrating those appropriately, while also recognizing when some approaches don’t work? Do you keep trying or do you give in? It’s easy to give in. It’s hard work to dig in and keep going. I urge you to keep going, especially when it’s hard, and then celebrate appropriately. Then, go do it again.
  • Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to join you on your journey in the same way that Paul and Barnabas did? Are you listening, watching, and learning? If not, take some time to reflect on that. Are you getting into good trouble? Are you transforming the world?
Rachel Fullerton is chair of the Conference Committee on Young Adults.