When Cancel Culture Becomes A Physical Attack
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. — Acts 9:1-2
So persecution is now amping up in the early church. Localized persecution of Jewish converts in Jerusalem drives followers to take refuge in smaller cities across the land. One of these refuge cities was Damascus. And because this was happening, the message of Jesus was moving more aggressively toward smaller synagogues across the land. But Saul wants to put an end to this blasphemy against God. So he garners an endorsement of the High Priest by getting official mandates to invade the synagogues in the neighboring city of Damascus. And, of course, Caiaphus, the High Priest, endorses this action. Saul's goal is to find leaders of the heresy as they are proselyting in these synagogues and bring them back to Jerusalem to be tried.
Eventually, as persecution escalates, it moves from something that is only verbal to something more aggressive. It may start with attempts to cancel, shame, and dismiss, but eventually, other tactics must be deployed when this stops working. Next, come orders and edicts from authorities, usually in the form of propaganda, that is used to reeducate and incite fear forcing peer-to-peer compliance. But eventually, when this no longer works, there must come a stage of physical force. This is what Saul is leveraging here.
Now I know this isn't a very uplifting devotional today, but more uplifting devotionals are coming. In the messages that follow, we will watch as God intervenes in this man's life. And Saul will become one of the greatest stories of conversion to the faith of all time. And therein lies the lesson for today.
As our persecution ramps us and we move from one stage to another, we cannot give up hope. God can save us from anything and rescue us from any situation. There is nothing that will stop God's message and plan. And sometimes, God uses the most unlikely of people to rescue us. Sometimes he chooses a former enemy of the message of Jesus to advance the message of Jesus.
So why not pray with me that God will change the hearts of those that oppose us. Pray that from their ranks come influential men and women of God who will speak up on God's behalf. And then let's watch together as God does something miraculous through this time of persecution.
ASK THIS: Has the present persecution got you down?
DO THIS: Pray that God would raise converts from the side of the opposition to speak a message of faith.
PRAY THIS: God, I pray you will rise up prominent people on the side of your opposition that will become believers in the message of Jesus and stand with us in the faith.
PLAY THIS: Rise Up — ICF Worship.
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