Peace in the Crisis

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A church in peace and strength amidst the crisis…
Saul used to drag Christians to put them to jail. (Acts 9:1-2)
Then he met Jesus on the way to Damascus, was converted and became a believer. Read his conversion in 9:3-21.
After he became a follower of Jesus, Saul became a powerful preacher of the gospel instead of passionate persecutor of Christians. He proved that Jesus is the Messiah. (v. 22)

The persecutor became the persecuted. His friends became his enemies: Jews who persecuted Christians wanted to kill Saul. He had to flee from them. (23-25)

vv. 26-30 tell us of Saul’s difficult path of transformation. He was caught in the middle: Jews on one side and believers on the other. As the former seek to kill him, the latter doubted and were afraid of him. Barnabas vouched for him and assured the apostles by testifying for Saul that he was genuinely converted and now a follower/preacher of the good news of Jesus. Even as Saul continued to preach, Hellenistic Jews sought to kill him. Again, the believers had to send him off to Tarsus to avoid the persecution.

And how did Luke conclude his narration of Saul’s conversion and transformation journey?
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

What an amazing testimony of the early church! The church: persecuted and dispersed Christians enjoyed a time of peace… Peace, not because there were no enemies but peace in the midst of probable imprisonment and death.

The believers enjoyed peace because they were living not in fear of the enemies but in the fear (awe, reverence, faith) of the Lord. They had peace because they were strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit who was their Counsellor and Comforter. And the church grew in numbers.

Quantity is the last mentioned.. When believers live well, when people see their good testimony, when they see that Christians truly experience peace and stay strong amidst hard circumstances of life, people are attracted to come and seek the good news of Jesus. Then the church will surely increase in numbers.

Today, in the pandemic world, am I enjoying peace or living in fear? Am I afraid and anxious about the problems brought about by COVID19… fear of sickness and uncertainties, loss of security? Or do I fear the Lord? Do I seek to honour and obey His commandments – to love him and love my neighbor?
Am I encouraged by the Spirit or discouraged by the challenges of life? Where do I draw strength to live in peace and joy when life is not easy?

The early church grew in numbers, in peace and strength because they feared the Lord and live in the Spirit. We can do the same.

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