We’ve all heard the incessant reminders that Christians should be champions at turning the other cheek, perfecting the art of being meek and quiet, and living at peace with everyone.
Yet the early church of Acts quickly learned what we would do well to remember today. You don’t have to be a Christian to cause trouble — but it sure helps.
That’s not to say we should make it our aim to stir up strife. I’ve know a few believers who seemed to think it their duty to do just that.
My reading of the Acts of the Apostles makes it clear that trouble was not the aim of those early followers of the Way. It just happened as a natural result of light clashing with oppressive darkness. Truth and falsehood cannot peacefully coexist.
The Acts of the Troublemakers
Consider this collection of examples of Christians who caused trouble in the book of Acts alone:
- Acts 7:54 “When they heard…they were cut to the heart and gnashed at him with their teeth.” Yikes. What an image of how Stephen’s message met with nothing but trouble. Come to think of it, their reaction sounds eerily similar to Tolkien’s depiction of those beguiled by the power of the Ring of Doom.
- Acts 9:23 “After many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him [Paul].” Nice. If you can’t win the argument, kill the opposition.
- Acts 17:6 “The Jews who were not persuaded became envious, took some of the evil men….gathered a mob….and said, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here, too.’” Ahh. Ministry envy. Still a leading cause of trouble whenever the gospel is doing what Christ sent it to do.
- Acts 19:15-16 “The evil spirit answered, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowering them….so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.” Here ends a series of unfortunate events caused by those attempting the acts of Christ without the power of Christ.
- Acts 19:23 “And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way….silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen….and the assembly was confused and most of them did not know why they had come together.” In Ephesus, the gospel disrupted the established economic system built around the worship of a false god (dare we compare our western reliance on human government?). The gospel offer of freedom from captivity to a false god ran into the Ephesians’ fear of losing their next paycheck. Often I wonder if that fear of losing a paycheck isn’t the greatest barrier to Western Christians being willing to cause trouble by speaking the truth in love.
Wherever the gospel went, it seemed trouble soon followed. Not because Christians were rude but because the gospel is revolutionary. It disturbs the status quo as it throws “down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” (1 Cor. 10:5)
Are You a Troublemaker?
Which brings us to you, Christian. Are you a troublemaker? If no one is bothered by your faith in Christ, just how closely are you following Him?
Think about your life right now. Where are you meeting resistance? Is resistance coming your way for faithfully fulfilling the Great Commission? Or is it the result of your own stupidity, inactivity, or fear of losing that next paycheck?
I know that, all too often, I’ve had to nod with the latter of those two. Maybe that’s true for you. I don’t know.
I do know that some reading these words are suffering for speaking the truth in love for Christ. To those feeling the heat from murderous crowds and envious religious folk, take heart. You’re in good company.
For the rest of us, we need to ask some uncomfortable, soul-searching questions. Do Satan and his demons even know who we are? Do the forces of darkness have a poster of us in hell’s break-room warning of Christians to avoid? If not, why not?
Maybe it’s time you started to cause some trouble.
Do you agree that the call to follow Christ in the light will bring resistance from darkness? Leave a comment with a click here to share your thoughts.