Acts 22:22-29: Much ado about something.

“22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, ‘Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!’23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, ‘Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?’26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. ‘What are you going to do?’ he asked. ‘This man is a Roman citizen.’27 The commander went to Paul and asked, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’‘Yes, I am,’ he answered.28 Then the commander said, ‘I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.’‘But I was born a citizen,’ Paul replied.29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realised that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.” NIV UK

I read about a bishop who said, ‘Wherever Paul went, a riot broke out; wherever I go they make tea!’  When I was a student, I was involved for a time with an open air service in Crawley centre. On a Saturday morning, a group of us drove over from the college and joined forces with some local Christians. Bob, one of our number, was an out and out evangelist. Physically, he was a force to be reckoned with – he was a big guy. He’d been a burglar prior to his conversion, but now he spoke easily about Jesus to people he met. I remember a particular day when Bob was talking to a young Marxist on the edge of the crowd. The ‘lefty’ was there selling his papers. He was smaller in stature than Bob, but I thought he was going to hit him. There was such venom etched into his face – such hatred for the Christian, it appeared.                                                                                          The gospel will make some people very angry. That’s just how it is. Don’t be surprised. Don’t expect everyone to be pleasant to you and your Christianity.

However, God’s protection is real. As long as he wants you alive in this world, he will rescue you from the malice of men. There were at least two human factors involved in Paul’s safe-keeping at this time: a.) the intervention of the commander – although he initially wanted to have him tortured to extract information; b.) the fact of Paul’s Roman citizenship. There may well be political/social advantages that we can judiciously use from time to time to further the gospel cause. However, we must not trust in them, but always in Him, who works everything for our good and His glory.