Monday, August 30, 2010

individuals and crowds

Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us.  She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God.  The Lord opened her heart to hear the things spoken by Paul.
Acts 16:30 And he brought them out and said,"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
Acts 16:22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
As Paul travels through his second missionary journey (recorded in Acts 16) I am struck with the differences between crowds and individuals.  Individuals, like Lydia in verse 14, or the jailer of verse 30 are reached for salvation.  Lydia already had a love for God, and the Lord opened her heart to the words of Paul.  The Jailer quickly became convinced when an earthquake opened his prison doors and yet prisoners Paul and Silas cared more for him than for their own opportunity to escape.  Jesus came to reach individuals personally.  His love pierces hearts and shatters our limited framework of thinking and acting.  But when we remain in the crowds (verse 22), and don't draw near as individuals, we can be swept up and swept away by a current carries a light boat away.  There can be a sense of belonging in the crowd...even a sense of purpose and of power and of righteousness.  But we have to be careful in the crowd to discern the source of these forces.  There can also be wonderful crowds, as crowds of believers stand shoulder to shoulder in worship.  But it is good to remember that we are reached as individuals that we might essentially know Him and be known by Him individually.  Salvation is enjoyed by many, who have come, one at a time, to faith.
Rob Smith

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