Fueling Racism and Anti-Semitism
"Those Jews! Foreigners! They're destroying our economy!" Down through the centuries these racist and anti-Semitic accusations have fueled judges and crowds to accuse, beat, and murder. It’s easy to claim that none of this darkness lurks in our hearts, but just let an outsider get the job we thought belonged to us and the hatred can explode.
Jews have faced the brunt of this hatred, and in the first century city of Philippi, a Roman Colony, in a time when those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah were considered to be a new sect beginning to rise within Judaism, racism and religious bigotry exploded against the Apostle Paul and Silas, his young associate.
“Seeing that all hope for making a profit was gone, the girl’s masters seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the agora before the rulers. Placing them before the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are stirring up trouble in our city. They’re Jews and they’re advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice since we are Romans.’
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas; and the magistrates stripped off their garments and gave the orders for them to be beaten with rods. When they had inflicted many blows, they threw them into prison giving orders to the jailor to keep them secure. Having received his orders, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks.” Acts 16:19-24
It’s easy to see who Luke considers to be the bad guys in this story—the masters controlled by their love of money who hurled the false accusations against the missionaries. These “bad guys” haven’t disappeared, and I need to stand strongly against these evils in our culture today. I must also be careful not to allow any of this vitriol to infect my own heart.
LORD, in history when the persecuted Christians gained political and religious power in the fourth century, they became the persecutors. Help me to stand strongly against this racism and anti-Semitism in our culture. Help me, like Paul and Silas, to be willing to face false charges and the abuse that can come when you proclaim and demonstrate Jesus’ power to set slaves free.
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