August 19, 2017
Sticks and Stones
August 18, 2017
Paul in our text from Acts preaches the Good News as he journeys throughout Asia Minor (approx. 1100 miles). When he is received, both Jews and Gentiles came to faith. When he is persecuted and basically, run out of town; he takes a ‘lickin’ and keeps on tickin…beautiful courage, faith, endurance, and perseverance. I wonder what the new and young believers thought of the treatment they saw Paul and Barnabas receive? I wonder if they knew any of the people involved in the stoning? I would feel confused and afraid. I might be tempted to ‘hide’ my newfound faith.
It is hard to imagine being stoned for sharing our faith in 2017 in Brentwood, TN. We are a fairly homogeneous community sitting amidst churches of many denominations. Today I was asked if fundamentalist teaching material would be allowed in my church. I felt able to say that we would use the parts of the material that we might share in common with fundamentalist believers and carefully lay out the differences in understanding and emphases in Methodism without offering any judgment. Thankfully, we did not need to stone one another.
In Webster’s dictionary I found some synonyms and related words for persecutor. I began to think that our 2017 form of persecution is grayer, more subterranean…disguised as something else…acts we had not even considered.
So here goes…a persecutor is a person who causes repeated emotional pain, distress, or annoyance to another.
Synonyms include: baiter, harasser, heckler, mocker, needler, tormentor, quizzer, ridiculer, taunter, teaser, torturer
Related Words include: belittler, derider, detractor, giber, insulter, jeerer, scoffer, scorner; trash-talker; smart aleck , smarty, smarty-pants, wiseacre, wise guy; kidder, lampooner, satirist; accuser, blamer, troublemaker; assailant, attacker, molester, victimizer; bother, disturber, pest
Questions for the Field
- When have you felt persecuted? How did you find courage to persevere?
- When have you persecuted someone else?
- Where might there be a modicum of persecution among Christian denominations? Among neighbors? Among world religions?
Family Field Talk
Make a list of questions you might ask to understand someone who has a faith different from yours. How many questions would it take?
O God, would I have been a persecutor of Barnabas and Paul? Would I have picked up a stone? Show me all the small ways I might have caused hurt with my words and actions! Teach me the way of listening and loving and including and praying. Cleanse my heart. Forgive me. Amen.