Elusive Popularity

by Chuck Swindoll

Acts 14:1-20

Remarkably, though laying lifeless in a pool of his own blood, Paul got right back up and walked back into the city from which he had been dragged and left for dead. I mean, is this missionary determined or what? True grit.

Let me ask you a couple of questions: Can you imagine being so hated that people literally pick up rocks and strike you repeatedly until you’re unconscious and left for dead? Here’s another one: If they stone you in Abilene, are you going to stay in Abilene overnight? Okay make that Phoenix or Bakersfield. Not a chance! You’re going to take as quick a flight to a place as far away from there as possible. Get serious—if you’re operating strictly from a horizontal viewpoint, you don’t want to be within a thousand miles of that place when the sun rises the next dawn.

That is, of course, unless you’re called and fully committed to the vertical perspective. Then you stick it out. You don’t quit. Neither do you retaliate or throw a pity party. You go to sleep night after night, trusting in the same God who called you to serve there—convinced that He is sovereign and in absolute control.

That’s exactly what Paul did. As a matter of fact, he entered that same city and spent the night there (14:20). He picked himself up off the dusty ground, pushed aside the larger stones, wiped the blood from his face and hands, gathered his composure, and climbed right back into the pulpit. They could not drive him away. Welcome to an authentic ministry!

You’d think he’d demonstrate a little caution and common sense. After all, Lystra is a dangerous, unpredictable city. Paul was stoned and left for dead! They wanted him gone, but God called him to minister there.

Listen to me: A ministry that lasts is a ministry that relentlessly perseveres through periods of enormous persecution. It is not fickle. It does not need the applause of people. It rejects being enshrined as a god. Authentic ministry delivers the truth of God, no matter how jagged the edges or perilous the threats. The ministry of Paul and Barnabas dripped with that kind of determination. Does yours?

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