It may not be college football season yet, but my loyalty to my beloved Georgia Bulldogs leads me to still keep up with pre-season plans and recruitment. I have been a fan of the Dawgs since early childhood, and thankfully, I married a Dawg fan. Now, my family loves to experience trips to Athens together as often as we are able. Some marriages are not so fortunate and may be a house divided. I can’t imagine the tension with that sense of divided loyalty.
On the level of entertainment and sports, it may be culturally relevant, but clearly has no eternal implications. Imagine a situation where a faith family could be so divided in their loyalty, that they fought over matters of eternal significance.
Acts 14 describes a polarity that is much more than a disagreement on the color of the carpet or methods of ministry engagement. We read of Jews who deliberately poisoned the Gospel message to lead people away from the hope of Jesus. This may be hard to imagine, but people can quickly step into a defensive posture when they feel their way of life may be threatened. This is a potential trap that anyone can stumble into if we are not guarded and fully committed to the Gospel.
How do you initially react to conflict? Many run away, but Paul modeled a healthy response. Rather than immediately fleeing the conflict, he chose to stay and communicate the Gospel with boldness. In doing so, he did not proclaim the truth in His own strength. Rather, he maintained a posture of dependence on God.
Full reliance on the Lord in both peace and conflict will ensure that we remain grounded in truth and guarded in hope. As members of God’s army in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, we must expect opposition. At the same time, we can learn from Paul’s example and pursue peace by boldly proclaiming the truth. It is this commitment to advancing the Gospel that can rally a faith family in unity and can bring together what once was divided.