Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Power of Struggle

I've always thought that Paul's missionary journeys were unique. I thought he went out preaching the word and no one could refute what he said. I thought that those he discipled got it and never doubted (they may have gotten a little confused - prompting him to write a letter now and again). I thought that he was head and shoulders above his contemporaries and those who would come after him.

Turns out, things didn't always go so well. In Iconium he did convince a great number of Jews and Gentiles to believe. But at the same time, the Jews who didn't believe "poisoned the minds" of those people against Paul and his compatriots, undoing all that he had done.

Paul persisted and cranked things up a couple notches - more preaching, more time and some miracles. Yet still the city was divided. The persecution got worse and turned to violence and Paul left.

This doesn't sound like a tremendous triumph to me. Instead, it sounds like a struggle - much like the struggle we face today.

Could God have changed people's hearts en masse? Could he have forced a complete revival where there was no opposition? Sure. But where would be the lesson for us? What could we learn from Paul if that was the example he set? How would we live up to that standard? What would that teach us about perseverance and dealing with adversity?

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