Disagreeing over religious beliefs is nothing new. During a trip to the region known as Galatia, comprised of four cities, Paul and Barnabas swayed half of their audience. Unfortunately, those who opposed the gospel consisted of Gentiles, Jews and political rulers in the town of Iconium. Instead of asking Paul and Barnabas to politely leave their town, a plot was devised to have them stoned to death. Apparently, one of their advocates overheard this plan and helped Paul and Barnabas escape.
So Paul and Barnabas stayed for a long time, speaking boldly and confidently for the Lord, who continued to testify to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders (attesting miracles) be done by them. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some were siding with the Jews, and some with the apostles, Acts 14:3-4.
This wasn’t Paul and Barnabas’ only brush with death. Devout Jews often responded to the good news about Jesus Christ with anger, fear and resentment. The thought that the Jewish faith was no longer solely God’s chosen people was too difficult to accept. Thus, Jewish religious leaders regularly turned to violence to stop the Jesus movement from spreading. The book of Acts is filled with attacks upon apostles who boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, Jude 1:3.
The only thing that has changed in the past 2000 years when it comes to religious divisions are the responses by those who have rejected the gospel. You see if the gospel is true, people have to change their lifestyle to conform with biblical teaching. However, if you reject the Bible you can continue on your current path. Instead of publicly beatings or stoning, social media have come up with creative ways to punish those who don’t share a secular worldview. Today, Christians are banned, censored and demonetized for sharing biblical beliefs. Despite these unpleasant experiences, believers must dust themselves off, get back up and keep sharing the good news about Jesus Christ like Paul and Barnabas.
by Jay Mankus