“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?””
Acts 16:25-30 NASB
Prior to this passage, Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison, by people who were against the message of the Gospel. They had endured ill treatment and were victimized by the establishment. They were in a strange land, full of strange people, not familiar with the God of whom Paul and Silas preached. Most of us would scream and shout and make our displeasure known. Such brutality! That is the human thing to do.
In that dark and painful moment, they sought the Lord in prayer and the singing of hymns. They took the real situation to the real God. I read this passage with a hint of conviction today. I am struggling with all the stuff I am seeing and reading. Even I find myself, from to time expressing my displeasure. My flesh demands recompense, a solution to the problem. As I take as breath, I remember that I have matured, and I find that I am more willing to go to the Lord, I seek in prayer and worship to deal with the issues of life.
In the drop of a knee, and the false, frantic call on a cellphone, the country is once again captivated by a racial crisis. Not like we needed another one. Paul and Silas were confronted with a deep wrong. They took that wrong to to the Lord. There were racial and religious implications in how they were treated. Like them we need to go to the Lord.
Right now we are witnessing a sad spectacle as agitators converged on Minneapolis and incite riots that hurt the people who live there. People who live and work there are watching their futures burn. Outsiders come in, destroy, and then leave. It is all driving me to the One I know has the answers. I am taking my concerns to the Lord this morning. The only real way to deal with a wrong is to do just that.
People are looking at those who suffer. I have often said that we are being watched. Paul and Silas were being watched by prisoners and jailers alike. The way they dealt with that wrong, and the response from the Lord, moved the jailer to seek Jesus of whom Paul and Silas sang and prayed.
Believers, as the crises mount and battle lines are drawn, remember that you are called to be peacemakers. I am looking at the situation through the eyes of Christ. It is sin to have such indifference as to ignore the strangled groans of a man near death. It is sin to go to a strange city to seek to destroy stores and businesses, and then cast the blame on the locals. It is sin to seek revenge against people who had nothing to do with the wrong in the first place.
What is needed is for those purchased by the blood of Jesus to rise up by bowing down in prayer to the Most High God who is the only one who can fix this. That act of people of faith, black, white, brown, yellow. and red and every combination under the Son, is the one that can bring real change and draw many to Jesus.
In that jail long ago, two Jewish believers, led a gentile to salvation in Jesus Christ, then shared with his family. The whole household came to the Lord. At that moment that was the most unlikely thing that could have possibly happened.
Believers, focus on the ties that bind, the common blood of Adam and the saving blood of Jesus that has saved all those who can call upon in the name of the Lord.
God has given us the opportunity to bring great blessing out of such great tragedy. It is also a great opportunity to have that long overdue conversation about race.
I challenge everyone to run to the throne of God, that the chains of bigotry, everyone’s bigotry be cast away. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel and to share the ties that bind.