Today we are going to talk about one of the most important characteristics of the gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, above all other things, is liberation.
We see this dynamic all over our story from Acts.
We read that Paul and Silas, as they minister in Philippi, attract a hanger-on.
She is an enslaved woman, and she is said to have a spirit of divination.
We don’t really know what that means or how we would think of that in modern terms, but the author makes clear what the practical result was: “She brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling.”
This woman was being doubly exploited.
First, she was held in slavery, and second, she was used to make money by manipulating what was either a genuine spiritual gift of her own, or the gullibility and spiritual hunger of anyone her owners could attract.
She had no freedom or self-determination, and she was being used as a circus side-show act.
But she could sense the true spiritual power of Paul and Silas, and she pursued it.
“She would cry out, ‘These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ She kept doing this for many days,” we read, and then Luke tells us that Paul was “very much annoyed.”
Why was he annoyed?
Well, I think anyone following you around shouting out the same sentence for days at a time might get a bit annoying after a while.
It’s also possible that Paul was irritated that someone was stealing his dramatic thunder in the public square. Never one to shy from the limelight, Paul loved being a showstopper for Christ, and this woman was rather upstaging him.
But I wonder if there’s another explanation for his annoyance. Continue reading