Paul and Barnabas leave Pisidian Antioch and head east in Turkey to Iconium. We see a similar pattern of going to the Jewish synagogue and sharing their truth with the Jews and Gentiles gathered there. Again, as we have seen in Luke’s report in Acts, the audience is divided with those that embrace the news of the resurrection and Jesus as the promised Messiah verses those who violently oppose. God even allows Paul and Barnabas to confirm their truth with “signs and wonders.” That only aggravates the opposition that then plots to kill our heroes. Hmmmm. Paul and Barnabas move on.
Luke makes an interesting statement, “But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the others Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. (verse 2)” There are some strong words here. “Refused” implies an openness that the will of the person blocks. Faith is a choice to embrace the truth shared with us but we have the responsibility to “test the spirits” for truth. We do not have to believe something because the preacher or TV says so. Using our spiritual roles to manipulate people has some ugly stories. We have the ability, unlike many, to search scripture and to confirm new ideas. Likewise being part of a body of believers with whom you can talk through ideas and pray is important.
But the second big word I see is “poisoned.” The nay-sayers, the resistant, poisoned the minds of others. Poison kills. I think of the parable of the sower who sows his seeds but some fell on the road and was trampled. No faith. Some fell among the rocks and couldn’t grow. Some fell among thorns and thistles and got chocked out. But seed, the word of God that fell on the good soil grew and multiplied. So the question for us today is to reflect on what “poisons” our faith life?
Things that poison faith can be troubles that whisper, “God is not able.” Perhaps you have a friend that always sees the glass half full and whines or grumps about everything. For some people, nothing is done right or could be done better. “Use it or lose it” is a quote we use in talking about exercising but I think it can also be used with faith. Our faith muscles cannot grow if we allow them to atrophy by lack of use. Likewise we can ask ourselves this morning if we are that “wet blanket” to other’s faith. Are we energy depleting to be around. That is not to say we must always be happy but it is to ask ourselves if we act like poison to the young in faith.
Today we will face challenges but how will we handle them. Will we set our minds to the negative or try to get to the truth? Will we be poison to others or allow others to poison us? Lord, help me to see your hand leading and guiding in the challenges I face today! Blessings.