Acts 21:1-36; Judges 16; Psalm 42
Christians have always been plagued by “malicious accusery.” When Jesus stood trial, false accusations rang around the room. Stephen was stoned over false accusations. As Paul sought to honor his Jewish heritage by observing the Law, that’s when the trouble began. “Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.’” (Acts 21:27-28) Paul was in the Temple as part of an observance of the law. Because he had been seen with a Greek in town earlier, the Jews from Asia had a readymade excuse to start a riot. Perhaps they thought that if they could get rid of Paul, maybe those troublemakers following that “dead” Messiah would dissipate. As followers of Christ we may run into the same types of situations. We will endure false accusations based on hatred of Jesus. (Just make sure that any accusation of evil IS a false accusation!) Our task remains the same no matter what: keep following Jesus and stay true to His word. If we do that, most of those who see us accused falsely will recognize the truth. In the long run, though, we should be ready to proclaim, like Paul, “For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13)
Lord, it seems like people around the world hate You. Your people are persecuted and killed for merely believing in You, the Creator of all things. Hate will never change them – only Your love will. For those who are enduring persecution I pray for strength and boldness to keep showing Your love to their persecutors. For those of us who have not undergone persecution yet, help us to continue to proclaim Your love and grace no matter what may happen.