…keep on speaking... Acts 18:9 NIV
Many have called Dwight Lyman Moody the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. He preached countless times before crowds of upwards to 30,000 and founded schools, the Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers.
One evening, during the final service of a weeklong revival, an usher handed Moody a note. For several nights hecklers had disrupted the service. Moody countered their attacks by quoting scripture and making the case that mankind could not save itself – that only a perfect savior could rescue people from the curse of sin.
Thinking the note was an important announcement, Moody hushed the crowd and unfolded the piece of paper. “This is most unusual. I have just been handed a memo that contains the single word, ‘Fool.’ I've often received letters where the author forgot to sign his name, but this is the first time I've ever received a note where he forgot to write the letter!"
Speaking of foolish documents, on July 6, Fox News Radio reported that a Phoenix man was sentenced to sixty days in jail after he refused to stop hosting Bible studies in the privacy of his home. “It came down to zoning and proper permitting,” said Vicki Hill, the chief assistant city prosecutor. “Any time you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does -- we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire.” (Apparently the fires of hell are exempted from such ordinances.)
When faced with persecution in the city of Corinth and the threat of imprisonment, the Apostle Paul received a vision from God. “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” God has not given most of us such assurances. And for much of his ministry Paul suffered greatly while planting “home churches” in Asia. But I wonder. If Christ returned tomorrow would He find us speaking up for Him or talking down to those who oppose home churches and God's Good News?
Our natural reaction to attacks on religious freedoms is to fight back. But Oswald Chambers reminds us that, “The church ceases to be spiritual when it becomes self-seeking, only interested in the development of its own organization.” I do not mean to suggest we should abandon our defense of religious liberty in America, but it seems to me if we follow the model of Christ and lessons of Paul, we will embrace our circumstances and fight - not for our rights - but for the life of every lost soul.
Sixty days in jail with a people desperate for a savior seems like a foolish punishment for holding a Bible study.
And a small price to pay to advance God’s love.