A well-known commentator on the current culture has opined that the popularity of social media – particularly Twitter, where many people post every small detail of life – is the quest for fame and notoriety. There is a sort of “celebrity rush” that comes from thinking all of hundreds of “followers” are now seeing your tweet “brushing my hair now #LookingFine”.
This same commentator speaks from his own fame that public notoriety is a two-edged sword. After a while, anonymity becomes the highest value.
The more public one is, the more that same person not only builds fame, but also builds critics and detractors for one of hundreds of possible reasons.
I’ve never been hugely well-known, but I have had enough life in the public eye between pastoring, coaching, political activism, etc. to know that not everyone is going to like you. Someone once said that “no good deed goes unpunished.” That statement communicates how even well-intentioned and pure actions will have some folks who read into it a self-centeredness or motivational ill intent that did not actually exist.
Certainly the Apostle Paul had to feel this way. He was seeking to obey God and share the gospel’s good news everywhere he went … but his reward seemed to most often be beatings and imprisonments.
Our reading picks up on the portion of the text yesterday where it was revealed that a plot was afoot to murder Paul. So the local Roman commander thwarts this by sending Paul “up the ladder of authority” to Governor Felix in Caesarea, accompanied by a heavy guard of foot soldiers for the first day of the journey (see attached map) along with cavalry for the entire trip.
One can also imagine Paul’s amazement that he had somehow caused all of this trouble. I would suspect he also had to feel he could certainly accomplish more if he could be on the road by himself – living the evangelist/missionary life. Instead, he seemed to be more often in chains and locked up in jails. Where was God in all of this misery and waste of time?
The fact was that Paul was perfectly in the Lord’s hands, and that is the safest place for any of us to be. Though God allows difficult times in our lives, and though he may at times even call some of us home to himself on a schedule that seems like an unjust timetable, this does not mean that God is not for us and with us. Again, to live is Christ, and to die is gain – the worst thing is actually the best thing! God has a plan, even though it often seems to be more confusing than clear.
Yes, there is only one safe place – in God’s hands and care.
Paul Transferred to Caesarea – – Acts 23:23-35
23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”
25 He wrote a letter as follows:
26 Claudius Lysias,
To His Excellency, Governor Felix:
27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.
31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.