In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are thrown into prison after Paul had commanded an evil spirit from a slave girl and her owners lost the profit from her fortune telling (v16-21). Paul and Silas were beaten and jailed for disruption. During the night there was an earthquake and the doors to the jail were opened and when the jailer realized what had happened, he started to kill himself but Paul stopped him and said, “Don’t harm yourself. We are all here!” (v27-28)
Earlier that night and after being jailed, Paul and Silas had worshipped and sang songs and it was during that time that the earthquake struck. The Jailer realized this was a supernatural event and fell at Paul’s feet asking, “What must I do to be saved.” (v30) Paul answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (v31) A bit later we read that the jailer was “filled with joy because he had come to believe in God.” (v34)
As I write this, there are earthquakes in Mexico, Iceland, the Kermadec Islands (E of Australia), India and Indonesia. That’s just 5.0 and above. Riots continue to rock our cities, officers are injured and killed, and we watch, helpless as coronavirus continues to attack people. The largest fire in Arizona history is still burning into the forests of central Arizona and Mt. Lemon near Tucson has been covered in fire forcing people from homes and business.
What is going on? Of course, our world has always been in turmoil. A student of history will tell you that periods of peace have been short, there is nearly always disruption, natural disasters, and war somewhere. But it is affecting us in dramatic ways. I believe the violent riots are, at least in part, a result of the frustrations of quarantine, job loss, and a climate of hate stirred with political targets.
Because Paul and Silas didn’t run away, they knew what would happen to the jailer and guards, the man was open to hear about Jesus. I believe we are in a watershed period where people are seeking peace and hope and don’t know where to turn. They don’t know about Jesus. They don’t know the hope of salvation and the peace that can bring.
I see and hear so many up in arms about longing for things the way they were or shouting down those they disagree with. Like the riots, this is not helpful. We have the answer they are looking for and we know the way to peace but how can they discover Jesus if we don’t tell them. Yes, some will call you foolish and old-fashioned. Some may call you names. Nevertheless, we persevere in sharing the same news Jesus shared about God’s great love, forgiveness, and grace. We share the answer to violence is Christ himself who bore our sin. We share the joy of this same peace Paul and Silas knew that you and I know.
I understand you are frustrated too. Our call as disciples is to share the love of Christ, sowing seeds of salvation. The harvest is Christs, our job is to tend the field. Let’s keep on sowing, sharing, serving wherever the call leads. The harvest is ripe and God is on the move so, let’s be ready. ~ Pastor John