Devotional Thoughts for Today
“It’s Gettin’ Tense In Here”
Acts 18:24-28 (NET Bible)
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak out fearlessly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. 27 When Apollos wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace, 28 for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Tensions are high these days—and with good reason. People are fed up with the way things are. Racist, classist, sexist, xenophobic and discriminatory ideologies have heartbreaking effects on so many lives and absolutely should be uprooted and dismantled. And right now there are minoritized communities across the country ready with shovel and sledgehammer to do just that. So, things are tense.
These same ails are present in the Church (and if they’re not present in your church, please hear this in love; it’s likely because your church is too insulated to be effective or you’re not listening). When we join the family of God, we bring with us our bigotry and bias, our wounds and scars, to a way of life that requires that we get really close in intimacy and interdependence—a perfect recipe for tension. And it gets personal when ideologies attached to our religion and faith are challenged. So, things can get even more tense.
If we are committed to the mission of God and humbly follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we WILL sense tension (in one relationship or another, in one space or another), and we WILL be led to speak and share God’s truth in love. In the passage above, Priscilla and Aquila confront Apollos to correct errors in his understanding of God’s truth. We don’t know the what (the content of Apollos’s teaching or their correction), but we do know the how—when Priscilla and Aquila sensed tension between Apollos’s teaching and God’s truth, “they took him aside and explained the way of God to him.” It seems simple, but this is the hard work of challenging and changing our broken world.
While content matters immensely (what is God’s truth about today’s most pressing issues), the way we go about speaking God’s truth is also critical. In the age of social media and the internet, we must take care not to confuse the cowardice that often lurks in public discourse with the courage it takes to participate in God’s transformation of hearts. When we talk about instead of to, withdraw instead of confront, condemn instead of listen, even when we pray about instead of for, we fail. While public platforms are useful, we only have the right to speak and the resources to be effective in those spaces when we are doing the hard work in our local communities of binding our lives to those with whom we may disagree in face-to-face confrontation, day-in and day-out conversation, and life on life relationships.
Truth is often offensive. People were wildly offended when Jesus spoke truth to power and challenged the way things had always been done. But it was His tangible love to those around Him that opened their hearts to the truth and ultimately saved their souls.
Prayer: Gracious God, please grant me the courage to participate in Your transforming work in the lives of the people around me. Open my eyes to see what is broken and open my heart to know and speak Your truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 17-18