Today’s Author: Steve Sveom

Sunday’s reading from Acts 16:16-40 recounts a story of Paul and Silas. Our actions may not be motivated by pure attitudes, but God still uses those actions to accomplish positive results.  The story has bookends to it that can illustrate that reality.

At the beginning of the story, Paul and Silas met “a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling.”  She followed Paul and Silas for many days declaring their role as followers of God with the purpose to proclaim a way of salvation.  Finally, Paul got downright annoyed, turned and cast out the spirit.  Perhaps the act brought her freedom from a spirit that controlled her and release from the demands of her owners.  But the act was motivated by annoyance.

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At the end of the story, Paul caused a scene by pointing out that the magistrates beat them in public but tried to release them from custody in secret.  Paul would not stand for it and created some trouble, eliciting an apology and forcing the city leaders to free them by their own hand.  It might bring to mind the practice of the late John Lewis, civil rights activist and advocate of “Good Trouble.”  

Sometimes the polite and patient response doesn’t bring the needed results.  Annoyance and Good Trouble might accomplish God’s purposes.  I am not very good at recognizing the times and places for annoyance and “Good Trouble”, but thank God for those who prod us and push us toward justice and freedom that is salvation for those who truly have been exploited or excluded from the good that God intends.

God of justice, help us to discern when annoyance is a call to action and when good trouble is doing your work.  Thank you for those who have taken risks to seek your justice and hope for this world.  Amen.

“Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community.  If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday contact Pastor Peter.