Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:24-25)
What if the local news headline read, “Minister Charged with Inciting Riot”? Subsequently, the preacher was convicted and cast into prison. If that minister applied for a position at your church, would you hire him? Surely no respectable church would consider such a fellow! Then a criminal by the name of the Apostle Paul could not serve at your church! That preacher was a jailbird! In fact, his ministry in a town often commenced with a riot, and concluded in a prison!
Christ came into this world with a life of love to share. The world’s response was to nail Him to a cross. He warned His followers that the servant is not greater than his Master. Jesus was a polarizing figure who disturbed those slumbering in sin. That is a mark of His followers. Paul certainly fit the bill. The servant of God is concerned with the applause of heaven and not the approval of humans. The fact that many will spurn the message, does not mean that we do not speak the message, nevertheless. Some will believe and be saved. In the sixteenth chapter of Acts, we see a poor young girl held in the grip of demonic power—yet, she was set free by the surpassing power of the Gospel! This was the spark that ignited the riot. Her employers were more concerned with her making gold than her finding God. So, the opposition arose to these “disturbers of the peace.” Paul and Silas were beaten and bound. We should be reminded that we have brothers and sisters tortured and slain in Islamic and communist countries for their faith. How long before the wave of antichristian sentiment hits like a tsunami on our shores? Hostility toward the church is not the worst thing—apathy toward us is, when the world feels no threat.
Paul and Silas, however, did not sigh or sob—they sung! They started the first cell group and had a captive audience! Instead of whining, they were worshipping. They really believed that all things work together for good to those who love God. Nothing is by accident in the believer’s life, but by appointment. The adversity may well open the door of opportunity!
God is in the business of shaking things up. He surely did at Philippi! The devil builds his little playhouses and God delights to tear them down! When the jailer who had so mistreated them was about to kill himself, we would have understood had the missionaries cheered him on—or at least stood back and let him. They chose to intervene instead. Love compels us to forgive and bless even those who are our enemies.
The darkest night gave way to the brightest day! That was not only true for the preachers who were freed from their stocks, but the jailer and his family who were freed from their sins! Midnight had found the missionaries singing in bonds and morning found them shouting at breakfast! How quickly God can turn things around.
What must I do to be lost? Nothing. We are born in that condition. The real question is, “What must I do to be saved?” The simple answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….”