Christ is risen!
Let’s face it, ideas matter. And the reason they matter is that ideas have consequences. Ideas flow from a mindset, a way of looking at the world and organizing the multitude of stimuli we receive through our senses every day. So, when you have an idea or an attitude or an opinion, it both comes from “someplace” and it is going to have consequences. This matters!
It’s why, sometimes, when an idea is so crooked when a mindset is so filled with dangerous and unintended consequences, it has to be confronted and dealt with, because those consequences are going, and do, affect real people, real lives, real societies. This matters!
Look at our lesson today in Acts 12:25; 13:1-12:
IN THOSE DAYS, Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark. Now in the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
So, our intrepid missionaries are active and going. Dear Sts Paul and Barnabas (a personal hero of mine!) In fact, we see the moment here when they are commissioned and ordained by the Church to go and spread the Word! Notice how the scriptures describe the laying on of hands by the Church as “being sent out by the Holy Spirit. This is an important moment worth your attention. So Paul and Barnabas get going and they come to a place where there was a magician. Now you have to understand that this word “magician” doesn’t mean then what it does today. Then a magician was more a philosopher or teacher that had the ability to mesmerize the crowd and do “amazing” things. And this “magician” had the ear of the local Roman leader of the province. This leader wanted to hear what Paul and Barnabas had to say. Of course, this made the magician nervous about losing his influence, so he fought the apostles.
Notice how St. Paul deals with this man. It certainly wasn’t very politically correct. But the situation called for potent “medicine” to stop the destruction of real people Whom God loves! St. Paul “tells it like it is,” to use an old phrase. His forthright speech and subsequent actions were both loving and the exact “medicine” for everyone involved, even though this was a drastic and unpleasant “intervention.” Sometimes, due to the stakes involved, the Holy Spirit has to “straighten out” the crooked paths of others so that those behind aren’t misled!
Today, is your life “crooked” or “straight?” The truth is others are following the path you are traveling, so your choices, your priorities, and your life must be informed and shaped by timeless wisdom. This is why being Orthodox on Purpose is a “must!”
P.S. Dear Lord, there are a lot of crooked places in my life, but I know that through repentance and trust in Your grace, those places can be straightened out. And I also know from experience this straightening process is painful and difficult at times, but I trust Your work in my life and I depend on Your mercy and strength to get me through this life-long process. Please help me leave a good witness to Your faithfulness to those who follow behind me. Amen!