Acts 9:26-31 (click to view Scripture below)
Our reading today takes place just after Saul’s conversion. After his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and the days of blindness and spiritual guidance in that city, Saul returned to testify of his experience to the disciples in Jerusalem. Their initial response to Saul was filled with fear and cynicism. Who could blame them? No doubt, most of their families had been threatened by the aggressive tactics of Saul to eradicate followers of Jesus.
But Barnabas seeks out Saul, listens to his testimony and brings Saul before the apostles and stands up for the validity of his testimony. This results in acceptance by the apostles and the initial bold preaching that Saul started in Jerusalem. Death threats start up almost immediately and Saul is taken to Caesarea for protection. He then proceeds to his hometown of Tarsus.
Our reading ends with a description of the church in the region; it says they “walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” In the middle of all that violence we read that the church multiplied. We can all relate to living in tough times. Our world can overwhelm us daily. The question is whether we will let anxiety and pressure rule, or will we follow the example of our brothers and sisters 2100 years ago?
To walk in the fear of the Lord is simply to acknowledge that whatever may be the world’s current situation, we have a God who is above and beyond it all. Our world crises are contrived by humanity’s desire to live by their own rules and we all suffer the consequences. In that world, to fear the Lord is to acknowledge He is the Creator of the Universe and no humanly created crisis is a threat to the fact He is in control. Also, to walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit is to have a deep sense of peace in the middle of chaos. This is peace that only the presence of the Holy Spirit can bring.
Vice President, ChildHope
Prayer: Lord, today let me be one of those Christians who fears and trusts You. May I take comfort and be secure because your Holy Spirit is with me.
26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.