"Then [the tribune] summoned two of the centurions and said, 'Get ready to leave by nine o'clock tonight for Caesarea with two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Felix the governor.' "
Wow! What made Paul such a target, such a VIP
(very important prisoner) as to warrant a jail transfer under
the protection of an armed guard of 470 soldiers?
One can't help but contrast the efforts made by this tribune and the governor to ensure that Paul gets a fair trial against the kangaroo court that tried and convicted Jesus to death in the middle of the night. Citizenship is a difference maker. Paul's status as a citizen of the Roman empire provides him with a degree of protection, privilege and power well beyond what Jesus possessed. Later, in many of his letters, Paul will go on to teach and preach that as Christians we are citizens of the reign of God. Though the privileges, rights and protections of heavenly citizenship are not the same as citizenship in our nations, Paul argues that this citizenship is a difference maker with respect to how we conduct ourselves in the face of powerful persecution.
The LORD God is our one true king. As adopted children of God's household and citizens of the reign of God, we are authorized (given authority) to represent God to the world. With this authority come real power and protection. This reality allows followers of Christ Jesus to step out boldly in faith in service of the good news. It also allows us to endure any and all indignities in the name of Jesus, since by his example we know that such worldly "push-back" comes with the territory.
The real question for today is not whether or not we have power to change the situations we encounter daily. The question is how will we creatively wield this power (that does not belong to us, but flows through us) in service to God's mission to redeem all of creation through sacrificial love and vibrant economies of grace?
What in your life today makes you wish you could be
surrounded by an armed escort?
Be still and know, that all
the power and protection you will ever need has already
been poured out over, into and through you.
LORD, I believe. Help me in my unbelief. Amen.