Acts 14:1-7 (JDV)
Acts 14:1 In Iconium they entered the Jewish synagogue, as usual, and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.
Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews woke up and corrupted the throats of the Gentiles against the brothers.
Acts 14:3 So they stayed there a long time and spoke openly for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace by enabling them to do signs and marvels.
Acts 14:4 But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and others with the missionaries.
Acts 14:5 When an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat and stone them,
Acts 14:6 they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian towns of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside.
Acts 14:7 There they continued preaching the gospel.
When I was growing up in rural Florida, it seemed that every house had a mean dog or three. Walking along the roads was relatively peaceful, unless the dogs were awake.
There is a proverb that says “let sleeping dogs lie.” It means that if someone is not bothering you, let them alone, so that they continue to not bother you. If Paul and his missionary team had a proverb like that, they didn’t follow it. When they entered Iconium, they found a mix of both Jews and Greeks, and that mix seemed to get along together. That was true until the missionaries brought Jesus into the equation. He proved to be a stumbling-stone to some of the Jews, and these Jews made sure he would be seen as foolishness to some of the Gentiles. Thus, the missionaries created a coalition of both parties — one which which joined with the political rulers to institute a program of persecution and attempted murder.
But it was not really the missionaries who are responsible for creating this division, and tearing apart the city. It is the gospel itself. Anytime you enter into a situation where peace is maintained apart from truth, injecting that peace with the truth will disturb the peace. But that is our mission. We don’t have to intentionally try to cause problems when we seek to accomplish our mission. The truth itself is going to do that.
Lord, make us a people who dare to tell the truth about you, even when it wakes sleeping dogs.