“And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.” (Acts 26:31)
Three men in authority admitted that Paul the Apostle had committed no capital offense: Lysias (Acts 23:29); Festus (Acts 25:25); and Agrippa (Acts 26:31). Yet for all that, this innocent man was ultimately put to death—beheaded, so we are told. It was a great travesty of justice, and therefore, humanly speaking, could never be justified. Still, with all the inequity we read about in the closing chapters of the book of Acts, we also read of the great opportunities these injustices provided Paul to recount his conversion, preach the Gospel, and glorify Jesus Christ. Ironically, the Jews, so determined to “shut him up,” actually provided the means of giving him an even greater audience.
Somewhere along the line, we Christians have reached a point, it would seem to me, where we assume (even assert) that we must be treated fairly, at all costs. Yet our Lord said in John that the servant is not greater than his Master; and from the time He was allocated a rough manger for a cradle, till His unlawful death on a rough cross, Jesus Christ was unfairly treated by people who should have known better.
It follows then that those who bear His name should not consider this same rejection entirely unlikely in their own lives. We need not seek it, anymore than He did, but this perverse would system will, of necessity, find things in a Spirit-filled believer’s life that make them uncomfortable. And when these occasions of unjust treatment come to us, we can cry, “Foul”; or we can use them, as Paul did, as a platform from which to display the grace of God and interject the claims of Jesus Christ.
When I am tempted to feel (and show) the frustration of impotence in the face of obviously unfair treatment, I have begun reminding myself of this all important truth: God is either in control, or He isn’t; and if He is, I don’t need to be.