Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 16:16-40.
Roman citizens are required by law to worship the emperor. Anyone who interferes with that worship by, say, encouraging Roman citizens to trust Christ as Lord, runs the risk of being beaten, imprisoned and even killed. But anyone who expects that such a threat will deter evangelists as zealous as Paul and Silas is greatly mistaken.
No one would have blamed Paul and Silas if they had curled up in a corner and thrown a pity party for themselves. After all, they had just endured a severe beating and were facing an uncertain future in prison. But the disciples didn’t miss a beat. They continued to minister to anyone who would listen. Christian history is filled with stories of people—like John Bunyan—who followed the example of Paul and Silas.
John Bunyan was born in Elstow, England, in 1628. After a stint in the army of Parliament during the English Civil War, Bunyan married a young woman who insisted that he attend church with her. John agreed, and before long he had surrendered his life to Christ. What’s more, he began to preach—not just in church, but everywhere he went.
Great crowds began to follow him—a development that alarmed the English government. In 1660, Bunyan was arrested and imprisoned for conducting a religious meeting without the permission of the state church. He was offered freedom on the condition that he would stop preaching. Bunyan refused, and his sentence was carried out.
John Bunyan could have chosen to wallow in self-pity in his prison cell. He could have turned bitter against God for allowing such cruel punishment. But that wasn’t Bunyan’s style.
Instead, he made the most of his time in prison by writing a book titled The Pilgrim’s Progress. From the most unpleasant circumstances imaginable came one of the most beloved and inspirational Christian books ever written.
- Describe a time in your life when you have allowed difficult circumstances to dictate your actions or attitudes.
- What present circumstances make it difficult for you to fully live out your Christian faith?