August 25, 2014
Acts 14:19-22 (in context)
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Remember those crowds from yesterday; the ones who were worshipping Paul and Barnabas as though they were Zeus and Hermes. Well, today, those same crowds were throwing rocks at Paul– big rocks. They actually kept throwing them until they killed him; or so they thought. At least they left him for dead.
Something about crowds. One day they are shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” and the next, “Crucify him!” They can’t be trusted, those crowds. Here’s a hard truth: If you are not actively following Jesus and growing as his disciple, you are a member of the crowd. If you are not following the Person of Jesus Christ with mind and heart level intention, you will follow the crowd. There’s no other way to say it.
It’s funny, though, how churches can become so content with a growing crowd. Maybe they didn’t start that way, but a “growing crowd” can become so seductive it can actually change your game plan from making disciples to just growing a crowd. When you think about it, nothing is more dangerous to the Kingdom of God than the crowd. It’s why discipleship is so critical. But the crowd opposes discipleship. Why? Those original disciples said it best in today’s text:
We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.
“That’s not still true, is it?” The crowd inquires. They hate that, and therefore, they remain the crowd. Crowds insist on being catered to. And when we are catering to the crowd (i.e. making our so-called discipleship quicker, cheaper and easier and generally lowering the bar on real Christianity) we can be sure that despite our busy-ness with church “stuff”, we are not making disciples.
If you are part of a church like this and you are content with the status quo then you are part of the problem. I’m sorry to say it so bluntly. You may thank me later. You may unsubscribe. Either way, I ask you this question:
Is it time to step out of the crowd?
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
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