June 20, 2019

A Divided City

Acts 19

Some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them.

—  Acts 19:9

Today’s Bible reading shows that the gospel does not always unite people. There are times when it deeply divides. Maybe you have experienced that too.

In Ephesus, Paul worked tirelessly so that the Word of God went out to all who lived in the region around this bustling center of trade and travel. Handkerchiefs and aprons touched by Paul became precious because of their use in healing people. Seven sons of a Jewish high priest tried to deal with evil spirits by using Jesus’ name without really knowing Jesus, and they were beaten severely. Even so, the name of Jesus became highly honored. Knowing Jesus makes all the difference.

While there are ministry highlights in Ephesus, opposition is still present. Jews who reject Jesus want to keep their old religious practices. Unbelieving Gentiles want to protect their businesses. Some silversmiths stir up a mob and try to stop Paul and his fellow workers. A riot is averted and the uproar quiets down, but it’s clear that deep divisions remain.

We often like stories to close with a sense of resolution and peace, but the Bible reflects everyday life. Today’s passage does not give answers. It does show that we are not alone. God is with us in our struggles wherever we may be.

Dear God, we pray for people who live in divided families because of the gospel. Protect your believing children, and help them to show your love to everyone. Encourage and sustain them in keeping with your promises. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Julius T. Medenblik

Rev. Jul Medenblik is a former attorney who was called to pastoral ministry and became the founding pastor of a church in New Lenox, Illinois. He is currently serving as president of Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jul and his wife, Jackie, are blessed with a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Julianne.

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