But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. ~ Acts 14:19-23
Paul is kind of like the energizer bunny. Or maybe it's a Timex watch: you know, "takes a licking and keeps on ticking."
There is nothing in my daily life as a Christian I have to face that even compares.
It's tempting to read these passages with guilt sometimes. Guilt that I have a pretty cushy life in terms of how I share my faith.
Guilt that I am not persecuted when other Christians are.
It's normal to feel that guilt sometimes.
But guilt, I've found, can sometimes be debilitating.
It can settle in and make me feel helpless.
Staples in the news are stories of black and brown men and women in America who are killed by the police. The cases of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Brianna Taylor continue to cause pain and grief.
As a result, the #blacklivesmatter movement continues to be relevant.
Now, a lot of nice people - white folks like me - might wish things would just move on. I mean, aren't things better than they used to be?
But is "better than they used to be" enough?
When I think of the fact that every day, black Americans begin again, knowing that their lives are just not as protected as their white neighbors, I am reminded of Paul.
They fight and live on because they have no choice. Paul had no choice but to proclaim the gospel when the Risen Christ called him.
Those in the #blacklivesmatter movement have no choice but to go on as well.
Do I have a choice?
Guilt can get the better of me. Or it can spur me to action to love my neighbors as myself.
Paul is healed after the disciples surround him.
Do you know of a neighbor who needs your love to surround them?
Lord, open my eyes to the plight of my neighbors. Spur me on to fight the good fight. Amen.