The Stand

"I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg of you, allow me to speak to the people." Acts 21:39

The Founders of this nation were very familiar with the Biblical narrative, and the rule of law as it flowed out of the Roman and Grecian cultures. The concept of a citizen is an ancient one, and rooted deeply in Paul's understanding of who he was, and the rights he held.

Paul was not ashamed to call for the protection of his rights, when they were being abused. For Christian citizens to do any less appears to be the path of least resistance, but it is a slippery slope that leads to annihilation. After Paul turned the other cheek, he turned to the law, and claimed his rights. Christian citizens always should.

When citizen's of this contemporary culture devalue their citizenship they withdraw from the public square. Inflating the role of the state, leads to the deflating of the citizen's freedom of speech. Without breath, there is no speech. Without breath there is no life. Take away speech and you take away life. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are birthed by God within the climate of freedom of speech.

The recent heavy handed efforts by the A&E TV Channel to punish "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson for speaking the truth, by purging him from his own TV show, is a chilling reminder of how fragile freedom of speech has become for Christians in this nation. Apparently GLAAD is not "HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY." Go figure. You will be made to care.

The systematic purging of Syria from their ancient Christian heritage has led to the relentless murder of thousands of Syrian Christians. As a boy, I marveled that the nations of the world stood by and watched Hitler's Germany set in motion the annihilation of the Jews of Europe. I asked, "How could that happen in a Christian country?" Today Christians around the world are the victims of a new holocaust being carried out by Islamic Terrorists in many Muslim nations. Even Prince Charles has noticed, so it is really not a secret anymore. It is a scandal of epic proportions.

Rights are fragile things. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are all in the right order and they are gifts from God, not the state. When life is lost, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are of precious little worth. "Happy, happy, happy", indeed. You may want to stand up with Phil Robertson, or you will find yourself standing alone. In this new culture of tolerance and diversity, remember this. You will be made to care.

Paul was exercising his religious liberty when he was attacked by a mob of people in the temple, and very nearly beaten to death before rescued by the commander of the Roman cohort. Freedom to worship has always been under attack, and the enemy is an ancient foe.

Even in Paul's day, freedom of speech and religious liberty were not abstract concepts. They formed the foundation of the lives of people then, and they inspired the founders to inscribe "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as valuable commodities in the formation of a new nation. Thank God they did.

"While they were seeking to kill him, a report came to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion,. At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul." v. 31-32

Paul was dragged away from the mob, put in chains, and carried by the soldiers towards the barracks. He was given the dubious safety of protection by incarceration. Within the walls of this sanctuary, he would be scourged by the authorities. They exacted a high price for their protection.

"As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, 'May I say something to you?'" v. 37

By his appeal, Paul revealed to the commander that he was not a trouble-maker, but he was a well-spoken man with the credentials of valid, and respected citizenship. This earned him a hearing. Paul took advantage of the forum. Christian citizens should be no less prepared to speak up and to stand up in the face of this culture's own version of mob rule. Register to vote, and vote with Christian convictions. But I digress.

"Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them..." v. 40

What we know about Paul is that he used his citizenship as a lever to speak truth into a mob that was motivated to annihilate him. He could have been carried away to the relative safety of the confines of the barracks, but he took his stand in the public square. Christian citizens should do no less.

It is worth remembering, that Paul was very familiar with the kind of rabble-rousing that had been going on to stir the mob up. He once was the man who led a crowd to stone Stephen. He would remind them that he held their coats while they did it. He confessed...

"I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him." Acts 22:20

There was a time when Paul took his stand against the Lord Jesus Christ, and he stirred people into a rebellious mob. This time, Paul took his stand with the Lord Jesus Christ, and chose to calm the mob down. What a difference in those two stands. The difference is not in the man, but the Lordship of Jesus, in the man. Paul stood up, under the authority of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Kneeling in prayer leads to the courage to take the right stand, at the right time, for the right reason. Paul would later encourage the Ephesian Christians,...

"Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore...With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit..." Ephesians 6:14-18

Paul knew that when a Christian rises to stand from a kneeling position, they are not just standing on the premises, they are standing on the promises of God. Christian citizens! Stand up! There is too much at stake to hide in the tall grass. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!