Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 49 | Acts 25
Acts 25 Reflections and Questions
By Rev. Laura Rappold
While I was preparing to write this message for the week, I must have read Acts 25 more than a dozen times. I kept reading the part about the Jews bringing many serious charges about Paul that they could not prove, leading into Paul’s defense of himself, proclaiming that he has done no wrong, but if they think he has, he’s not trying to escape death. I mean… wow. Can you even imagine feeling that way? “I haven’t done anything wrong, but if you think I have, go ahead and kill me”. Is he super brave? Or super foolish?
I’m not sure he’s either one of those things. I think Paul is just… sure. His conviction in the truth of a living Christ is so strong, that not even the threat of death could shake it. He’s not going to let something like the idea of being killed throw him off of his beliefs, or make him change his mind. That, my friends, is certainty.
These days, most of us reading this aren’t facing death regularly for proclaiming our belief in Christ. Most of us aren’t literal prisoners. But, I’d guess that we are all facing the challenge of speaking up for what we believe- which is certainly informed by our faith. It seems to me that not a day goes by where we aren’t presented with an opportunity to speak up on behalf of justice, on behalf of our neighbor, on behalf of what we believe to be true and right and good. And sometimes, often really, speaking up has consequences. Telling the truth might get you into trouble with someone. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and some people are going to criticize you. One look at social media can tell you that people have no problem telling you what they think.
But if you believe, as Paul did, that Christ is alive, you can be brave and speak the truth, assured that it is the faithful thing to do. Jesus Himself had something to say about this too: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account”. (Mt. 5:10-11).
Pau’s assurance in the living Christ meant that he didn’t lose sight of his mission, even when facing the possible end of his life. And we can’t lose sight of ours. Christ calls us to pray for our enemies, to advocate for the least of these, to forgive, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are called to live into Christ’s mission, and to spread His message of justice, hope, peace, and love, even when it’s hard, or frightening, or we might get in trouble for it. As the activist Maggie Kuhn says, “Speak the truth, even when your voice shakes”.
What is something you believe deeply, but have been afraid to say? What might happen if you do?
When have you lost sight of your mission to spread the gospel? What brought you back?
How does Jesus’ reminder that we are blessed even when we are reviled and persecuted on his account encourage you to speak out?
Rev. Laura Rappold is director of the North Georgia Conference Housing and Homeless Council.