Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK THREE
ORBIT – DAY TWELVE
Hello and welcome to another Orbit – the devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each weekday we look together at a little bit of the Bible, and ask how we might be able to apply it to today. Please do tell your friends and family about these daily readings if you think they’d find them helpful.
BIBLE READING – Acts 16: 35-39
Yesterday, we read how Paul and Silas had an opportunity to escape from their Macedonian prison, but decided not to in order to save the life of the jailer. Today, Paul is released… but he doesn’t go quietly.
But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologised to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to be a timid little pushover. There’s an idea, spread by Christmas cards depicting the cuddly baby Jesus, that he was ‘meek’, and ‘mild’ – and that we should be too. But while Jesus was kind and loving, he was also a passionate revolutionary. He came to turn the world upside down, not to cuddle it.
An interesting little aside by the way: you’ve probably heard that Jesus encouraged us to turn the other cheek to our enemies. We might interpret that as meaning we should offer the bullies a second chance to punch us, or that we should give out our bank details to scammers when they try to catch us out. But if you were a Roman soldier – the most likely person to smack you in the face in Jesus’ culture – then you’ve only got one free hand; the other hand is busy holding your spear. So when you hit someone who you wanted to humiliate, you used the back of your hand to slap them dismissively; it was how you established your dominance. If that person turned the other cheek to you, backhanding them became impossible – they were inviting you to punch them properly, like an equal. So turning the other cheek wasn’t an act of submission – but defiance. Anyway, I digress…
In this story, Paul refuses to let an injustice pass unchallenged. He and Silas were thrown in prison because they healed a fortune-telling slave, and therefore robbed her owners of an income. Not only that, but as Roman citizens, this should never have happened to them. So when they’re released, Paul won’t go quietly – he demands justice; he wants a public apology. And do you know what: he gets it. The very people who had Paul and Silas stripped, beaten with rods and thrown into prison, now have to say a humiliating sorry in full public view. The injustice has been completely turned around – and it has brought glory to God too.
Following Jesus means loving everyone, and putting their needs before our own. But it doesn’t mean being treated like a doormat, or bullied or pushed around. When the injustice is against us, God cares just as much. God is a God of justice, and he fights for everyone who ends up on the wrong side of oppression. Often he’ll ask us to be involved in bringing justice – which is the work of the Kingdom – but he also promises to see justice for us too. That’s why the Psalmists often refer to God as our ‘rock’ and our ‘fortress.’ We can always depend on him when we’re up against it.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord, I pray that you would help me to spot injustice around me, and fight against it. But when I am the victim of unkindness, or the wrong actions of others, I thank you that you will fight for me too, and be my fortress. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
We’ve thought a bit today about what it means to be a victim of injustice, so today take a few moments to think about how others in your world are treated unfairly. It could be someone – or a group of people – in your community, your school, or even your family. Ask God how your words or actions could make a difference for them, and see if you have an opportunity to bring fairness or justice into someone else’s life. Where could you be a force of justice and good today?
If you want to get in touch, you can always email email@example.com, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!