Don't Be Poisoned

Acts 14:1-7 - Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.  But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.  But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.  When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country,  and there they continued to preach the gospel.

     The Gospel will not advance without opposition. It is what we do when the opposition arises that determines the legacy we leave. When Luke and his mission partners began to see God’s family growing through their preaching of the good news, they also encountered resistance. This resistance comes from those who are unbelieving Jews, and their method is to poison the minds of the Gentiles. The response of the missionaries was to speak boldly for the Lord. 
     We all have instructions from our Lord to make disciples by teaching what we have learned about God and baptizing new brothers and sisters. But those who do not know Jesus already have been swayed against Him. Through subtle means like popular music, movies, news, and social media the culture has poisoned our minds against faith in God and against real reason.  Because of this we must stand firm and renew our minds every day. We must speak boldly for the Lord, first to ourselves and then to an unbelieving culture.
     We must first speak truth to ourselves because the poison has seeped into our church communities. Mistrust and entitlement have turned us against one another, giving the unbelievers more reason to stay away in their own minds. When we speak truth in love to ourselves and our communities we prophesy power and abundance over them, which becomes lived out. As the church lives out its identity as the sons and daughters of God, then those who seek to poison and destroy us will instead be reached with the love and grace of our Father. The truth is delivered to an unbelieving culture because we live what we believe, not merely because it is our duty. We speak of that which we love.
     You might notice in the last verses that the apostles fled when they heard there was to be an attempt on their lives. One could interpret that as running away, but there is more to it. The last words of verse 7 are “and there they continued to preach the gospel.” God will move us however he needs to in order to get us where He wants to use us. The goal isn’t to save our own lives, but instead to continue to preach the gospel, no matter the circumstances.

Identify the poison that is in your own thinking. Is it a lack of belief in yourself? Is there separation rising between you and your church? Name the poison and pray for God to remove it and seek forgiveness when necessary.

Evaluate your own sharing of the gospel in day to day life. If you haven’t already, write out your testimony and memorize it. Pray and look for opportunities to share God’s story in your life with others.