“Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth for he should not be allowed to live.'”
Just let this soak in. This is Paul as he’s being persecuted, proclaiming the gospel, the good news about Jesus and testifying to how Jesus had changed his life. And when he speaks about this, about how Jesus has changed his life and how Jesus has called him to make his love known among all the nations of the earth, and after he shares this, they shout out, “Away with this man from the earth, he should not be allowed to live.” In other words, “Kill this man.”
We have brothers and sisters all throughout the world who are suffering for following Jesus. As we pray for their boldness and continual dependence on Christ, let us also pray that we will be bold in sharing the good news of Jesus.
So picture it. Here is a man testifying to Jesus and his glory among all the nations, and the world in this circumstance responds by saying, “Kill him.”
I read this and I cannot help to think about persecuted brothers and sisters around the world for whom this is a reality right now. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who are testifying to Christ right now and people around them are saying, “Away with these people from the earth, they should not be allowed to live.” And it might be, in some circumstances, foreign governments saying that.
So it might be a government in North Korea. As soon as a North Korean brother or sister says anything about Jesus, the government says, “Away with them,” sends them off to a labor camp where they languish until they die. Or in some parts of the world it could be a family member, it could be a Somali mom or dad or brother or sister who, when a family member says, “I am trusting in Jesus, he’s the savior of the nations,” and a mom or dad, brother or sister, or grandparent, uncle, aunt says, “Away with this family member, they should not be allowed to live anymore.”
So Acts 22 as we read this, this is not just stories from 2,000 years ago. This is realities today. So God, we pray, we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters right now who have people around them saying they should die. I think about a pastor I was talking to just a couple of weeks ago, who five people in his congregation in the Middle East are under death threats right now because they were baptized as followers of Jesus. Oh God, please provide for, protect, strengthen, uphold, and embolden our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. God, please give them grace to trust in you. Please give them wisdom to know how best to proclaim the gospel and please give them boldness to proclaim the gospel. God, we pray Acts Four over them. Consider the threats against them and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness, we pray.
And then God as we pray for them, we pray for us who live like … I just think, God, I live in like the freest country in the history of the world in many ways, so help me to be all the more bold. Help us who live in freedom to be all the more bold, not to be silent with the gospel when those who are speaking about it are doing so at the risk of their life around the world, our family, our brothers and sisters. Help us to be faithful, to speak the gospel to those around us today, oh God, not to be afraid of what they might think of us, or they might think we’re the crazy religious person, or we might mess up in this or that and they won’t understand what we’re saying.
God, help us to trust in you, your Spirit in us, the power of the gospel, and to fully steward the freedom you’ve given us to share the gospel with other people today. God, please may it be so for your glory in free places in the world and for your glory in persecuted places in the world. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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