Monday, September 29, 2008

Acts: Well Intentioned and Wrong (21:1-14)

There is an apparent problem in Acts chapter 21. We have already seen in 19:21 that Paul has made plans (in accordance with the Spirit) to go to Jerusalem and then on to Rome. We have more insight of these plans from Paul himself in Romans 15. Yet here in chapter 21 Paul is repeatedly warned by people (again in touch with the Spirit) not to go to Jerusalem.
This seeming contradiction is not a problem (and not a contradiction at all.) We do see Paul, led by God, to makes his travel plans. We also see several people, also enlightened by the Holy Spirit, asking him not to go. The problem is solved when we realize that both Paul and the other Christians were hearing the truth from God. It is just that God’s plans involved difficulty for Paul. This hardship was acceptable to Paul. The other Christians saw the same difficulty and asked Paul to avoid it.
We often hear truth from God that is not pleasing. The question is: are we willing to face it?
American Evangelicalism in its tendency to combine the Gospel with the “American Dream” has embraced a lie that the Bible does not teach. “God does not desire or allow any of His children to suffer.” This is not only untrue but dangerous. We cannot abide in God’s will if we buy into the lie that this will always guarantee our safety and happiness.
Paul understood, better than many Christians of his day as well as ours, that God’s plans are not always (ever?) easy. But they are worth the bad and difficult things we might face.

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading a Junior Biography series called, "Christian History; Then & Now." I was telling some friends last night about the hardships that every missionary faced---death, death of a child(ren), insanity, persecution, starvation, etc. My words: God's ways are certainly not our ways. I think if I'd been God, I would certainly have put my hand of protection and blessing over those who were willing to "go & tell" especially. But instead, God used those sufferings to display His grace, compassion and mercy---and draw unbelievers to Himself. Amazing! (I highly recommend the books, by the way---especially for adults---quick, informative reads)


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