Acts 18: 5-6“When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Paul has come to Corinth and has been arguing in the synagogue every Sabbath to convince the Jews that they should embrace and believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Feeling acute frustration with his efforts, Paul has had enough and shakes the dust from his clothes as a signal that he is moving on. One night soon after, the Lord said to Paul in a vision “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent.” (vs 9). The chapter goes on to tell us how Paul remained in Corinth for a year and a half teaching the word of God and bringing many to believe.
When I reflect on these verses, it brings to mind all of the people I have known or known of who would not be silenced despite the frustration that they faced, those who over the years have spoken up and ultimately won support for the oppressed, the poor, and the marginalized. In particular, I think of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In his book God Has a Dream, he states: “Our God is a God who has a bias for the weak, and we who worship this God, who have to reflect the character of this God, have no option but to have a like special concern for those who are pushed to the edges of society, for those who because they are different seem to be without a voice.” I believe that as a community of faith, we must be that voice. And in speaking for those who are stifled, we bring the true love of Jesus to those around us.
Paul wants to give up on the people of Corinth, but he hears and heeds the Lord when he is called to continue. We may never be faced with those who argue with and revile us, but as the Lord has perhaps whispered in our ears, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent.” We must in his name continue to speak the truth, and proclaim the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Lois Vanderbok, EfM, Year 1