“P.S. Appearances”

Acts 16: 35-40

We just read that Paul and Silas were publically arrested and beaten after casting out the spirit of divination from the slave girl, resulting in the loss of revenue for the owner.  They were beaten in public and then jailed in stocks and chains.  At midnight a great earthquake set them free but they did not run.  The jailer and family asked how to be saved and Paul shared his faith.  The family believed and was baptized.  The next morning the magistrates send word that Paul and Silas are free to leave.  No explanation is given.  We don’t know why they decided that.  Paul though seems to be offended and replies that Paul and Silas, Roman citizens, were publicly condemned, beaten and jailed.  There was no due process of law.  They deserved a public trial and opportunity to share their story and Paul is determined not to steal away in silence as if he were guilty of something.  He has not paid a bribe nor pulled strings through “connections.”  He demands a public statement!  Awkward!!

     How many public Christian leaders have had their testimony ruined by the scandals swirling about their life style?  Some have had affairs or been accused of inappropriate behavior.  Some have misused money.  The reputation of Christianity has been called into question by the actions of visible leaders.  Paul realizes that he needs to clear the air and the possible rumors swirling around about his imprisonment.

         The thought of a public hearing of questionable behavior is a scary thought.  Some glide into the unknown and others live in disgrace.  Some have even written books about their experience and recovery.  The lesson I walk away from here is not about how to handle the situation but the warning to all of us that our lives are watched by others. We are not an island and how we live our faith is important.  I know we sing with pride, “I lived my life my way,” but the truth is that we are not islands.  Our lives impact others. 

         So who are you influencing with your life?  We talk about discipling and mentoring.  Both have a more teaching  feel.  But it is also true that we model faith with our lives, not only by doing good but also by how we deal with tough times.  Paul wants a public statement of his innocence!  Lord, may our lights shine to your glory, not only in good times but also during trials.

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