Friday—Culture Makers: The Commoners

Series: Advancing
Message: Culture Makers: The Commoners
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jessyka Albert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Acts 18:1–17 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: When it comes to things that matter, indifference is not an option. The Bible stories around Jesus and the early church bear this out—even though they show several cases of leaders showing indifference.

Consider the role of Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, in the trial of Jesus. He even got to the point of declaring Jesus innocent— “I find nothing wrong with this man!” (Luke 23:4, NLT)—but then shrugged, purported to wash his hands of the matter, and sought to step out of an awkward political situation. Despite a profound encounter with Jesus, his attitude was ultimately one of indifference and expedience. It did not end well for him, for the Jews, or for Jesus (at least in the short term).

Later in the story of Acts, the governor Festus and King Agrippa sought to deflect Paul with allegations of insanity (see Acts 26:24) and questions about the nature of belief (see verse 28), respectively. They both agreed that “this man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment” (verse 31, NLT)—but shrugged their shoulders and left Paul to his fate.

Again, in the passage this week, Paul was brought before a governor—Gallio, governor of Achaia—who expressed his lack of interest in judging the matter: “And he threw them out of the courtroom” (Acts 18:16, NLT). Gallio might have had a valid argument; the case might well have been outside his legal jurisdiction. But his motivation seems to be indifference, which left him without any ability to stand up against the wrong that was happening right in front of him. And again, someone got hurt—in this instance Sosthenes was beaten up in the courtroom “but Gallio paid no attention” (verse 17, NLT).

The indifference of these various leaders stands in strong contrast to the passion and zeal of Paul and his colleagues, as they worked, sacrificed, and persevered in furthering the mission of Jesus. In the face of evil and wrongdoing, history tends to judge indifference harshly. Most often, such indifference is complicity with evil. 

In the kingdom of God, indifference is no longer a legitimate option. Jesus did not call Paul to merely stop persecuting; instead, he was called to be an apostle of the Jesus he had been persecuting. And we are not called to merely stop doing wrong, but to exhibit positive goodness, show love, and share the hope we have found in Jesus. Indifference is not an option.

Recalibrate: Is there something in your life that you feel indifferent about that perhaps you shouldn’t?

Respond: Pray for God’s prompting to overcome indifference on things that matter.

Research: Re-read the story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate (Luke 23:1–25). Reflect on the roles the different characters play in these scenes and the attitudes they demonstrate.

Nathan Brown is a writer and editor at Signs Publishing in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. His most recent book is Engage: Faith that Matters.

Give your child some balloons to hide around the house. Ask them to help you find them. When you have found them all, ask your child what you should do with them. Have a mini party celebrating the fact that God knows where we are always and knows what it is we are meant to do.

Yesterday we thought about a special person who has helped you. You are designed to be a special person for someone else. Keep an eye out and have your helping hands and encouraging words ready. Be the friend you would want.

When was the last time you said, “I don’t care”? Did you really mean it, or did you actually care? Next time you say or think, “I don’t care,” pause and ask yourself, “Is that really true?” “Do I care?” “Should I care?” Has God called you to be a person who “doesn’t care”?

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