Monday, May 14, 2018

Acts 16:25-30 -- On Sticking Around and Seeing the Good

"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
Acts 16:25-30

This is an interesting story I think because of what didn't happen.  They prayed, the doors were opened, their bands were loosed.  They had *every* reason to believe that God was delivering them, and yet they stayed.  They saw the keeper of the prison ready to harm himself, and instead of walking away and letting that happen, they saved him by voluntarily remaining, and in so doing were there to help answer his questions about the gospel.

This doesn't sound like the plot of a Hollywood movie at all, does it? :)  The earthquake works, but the rest isn't quite action adventure material.  The good guys against... wait.  Everyone is a good guy?  The other prisoners didn't run either?  The prison keepers and the guards are nice?   Even the people who had them thrown in prison let them out the next day (verse 35).

I think God encourages us with this story to remember that everyone is, or at least has the potential to be, a good guy.  We cast others in villain roles in our lives quite frequently, but rarely are people actually trying to hurt or harm us.  Not that it doesn't ever happen... it does.  People try to take advantage of us through lies and manipulation sometimes.  But not always, or even frequently if we are talking about people we actually meet and not the contents of our spam folder. :)  The less we think of other people as our enemies and more as friends or equals, the more that we will be able to understand, serve, and love them, as Christ asks.

Today, if God grants us something akin to a convenient earthquake, let's look around and see if there are people that we can help and save before we sprint for freedom.  If something bad happens, let's assume the best about the people involved rather than the worst.  Let's work on loving people, and not letting the fact that evil exists make us paranoid, and unable to see the good in everyone.

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