Doing the right thing, especially when it is a God-centered thing, is often met by opposition. While on his deathbed, evangelist John Wesley wrote a letter of encouragement to William Wilberforce, a British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade. “Unless God raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils,” Wesley warned. “But if God be for you, who can be against you?”
When the gospel spreads through a culture, it will disrupt the sinful structures in it. The growing number of believers in Ephesus were disturbing to those whose income was tied to idolatry. Demetrius, a silversmith, stirred this discontent into a near-riot by appealing to a mixture of religion, local pride, and greed. The tradesmen seized Paul’s traveling companions and took them to the theater, where public meetings took place. It is estimated that the theater could seat 25,000 people. While Paul wanted to address the mob personally, his friends persuaded him not to enter the theater. The clerk who acted as the executive administrator of the city’s official assembly quieted the mob by warning that the Romans could charge them with rioting.
Paul planned to return to Jerusalem and then go to Rome, passing through Macedonia and Achaia along the way (Acts 19:21). His itinerary was interrupted because of plots against him (Acts 20:3). During a weeklong stay at Troas, Paul’s extended message combined with the stuffiness of the upper room where they were meeting had an unfortunate result. Eutychus, one of those who accompanied him from Ephesus, dozed off and fell out the window to his death! Through the power of Christ, Paul restored the man to life.
>> Are you going through difficult times because of your faith in Jesus? Don’t be surprised if your efforts to spread the gospel bring opposition or unexpected hardship. Remember that God will carry you through. If God is for you, who can be against you?
In response to today’s teaching from Acts 19 and 20, let’s pray for the determination to always rely on God no matter the situation. Lord, help us remember that with you on our side we can overcome anything!