“Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won the crowds over. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing he was dead. When the disciples surrounded him, he got up and entered the city again. The following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.”
Acts 14:19-20 (CEB)
There are some people that wish death upon you. They would love nothing better than to hear that you’ve fallen and can’t get back up. In America we love underdog stories of people coming from nothing to something, but I think we get even more satisfaction of seeing great people fall. It’s a sick game we play and it’s found it’s way into the church. There’s this unspoken competition where we get secret satisfaction of another church or pastor dying. “I heard they ain’t doing too well…I told you it wouldn’t last!” What’s sad is that the people who are happy claim to know God.
The Apostle Paul had just healed a man that was lame in both feet. His approach was unconventional and the secular people began to rave over the miracle and started calling Paul and Barnabas “gods!” When Paul and Barnabas heard about it they were embarrassed and immediately gave glory to God for the miracle. Nevertheless, some religious people who claimed to know God, took Paul and stoned him. They picked up large rocks and threw them until they thought he was dead. They left him bleeding out on the ground.
- It’s amazing how people who claim to know God throw rocks. You shouldn’t throw rocks when you live in a glass house. No matter what church you attend it’s a glass cathedral and your pastor is vulnerable to unnecessary attacks. There is no perfect church or pastor. We are all imperfect people serving an amazing God who can heal lame people. Why attack each other just because we disagree with our approach to ministry. They attacked Paul based on the reaction of secular people without ever having a conversation with Paul. We fear what we don’t understand and try to kill what we can’t control.
- They left him for dead. If you are in ministry long enough you will go through a season where it looks like you have “flatlined.” There is a growth cycle in every organization and church where you stop growing and start declining. The stage right before death is life support. This is where churches or leaders go under attack and shift from strategy to survival. This is where many walk away thinking that the leader or the church is dead. You’re stagnant and bleeding. They think you’re dead but you still breathing!
- The disciples surrounded Paul and he got up! Notice Paul doesn’t get up until the religious people who stoned him left and the disciples surround him. You’re not going to be able to get back up from what tried to kill you until you allow religious people to walk away and surround yourself with Disciples of Christ! I’m not interested in drawing any more religious people from somebody else’s church. In this season of resurrection I need to surround myself with Disciples! I’m ready to go after people who are looking for God and not people who think their job is to play god. This is the season where we grow deeper not wider. If I’m going to go higher my circles has got to get smaller!
- Paul got up and continued his mission. This is your season to get back up, clean your wounds, assess your damage, and get back to what God called you to do. If God be for you, who can be against you?! Get up and finish what you started. You can’t die until God is finished with you and he ain’t finished!
Thank you for bringing life back to me and our church, our community, and our city. I know that you’re not finished with us! We’ve been down and out, up and down, almost level to the ground. But I’m not tired yet! We’ve been “buked” and scorned, talked about just as sure as you’re born but I’m not tired yet. I’m still running for Jesus. I’m ready for my second half! My latter shall be greater. Surround me with disciples and get rid of religious haters who have nothing but stones of criticism. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. Bless every person who’s been left for dead. Let them know that this is their season for a comeback. I feel a “getting up spirit” on me! I’m ready for every good thing you have for me as your spirit stands me back up on my feet! I’m ready God! Put me back in!
In Jesus’ Name,