The Best Response to Mistreatment

Have you ever been mistreated by someone else?

Ha! That was a rhetorical question. If you’re reading this it means you are from planet earth, and if you live on planet earth you have been treated poorly by someone, somewhere along the way, because that’s just how things work on a broken planet.

How did you feel when you were ill treated, misunderstood or unjustly marginalized? What did you want to do in response?

It’s hard to experience something like that, largely because we feel so out of control. We are in a section in our study of the book of Acts where the leadership of the first church has now experienced unjust sanctions against their ministry by the powers that be. This Sunday we’ll be reading about how they  responded to such mistreatment, as we explore Acts 4:23-31.

In our text, who did Pete and John go to as soon as they were released from captivity? Do you think the alliances we choose in times of trouble can dictate the course we take in response to that trouble?

When they all get together and hear the threat leveled against them…what do they do? Is that a natural response for you to have when someone has hurt you?

What is it about God’s nature that they remind themselves of in v24? What bearing does that have on their situation?

They go on to quote Psalm 2 in their prayer. They see it as a forecast of things that have already taken place in the experience that Jesus had before Pilate and Herod, as well as the mob. Read that psalm in it’s entirety. What sort of picture do you get from v4 of that psalm? How can it comfort us to gain a picture of what goes on, behind the scenes, when we are faced with bad treatment and difficult people?

When the prayer ended, the room got shaken and they got stirred. In their prayer, did they ask for deliverance from persecution? Did they ask for vengeance on their oppressors? What did they ask for? What did God do for them to embolden them in their mission? What does that tell us about our source of strength to overcome difficulty, and how would you go about asking God for that source?

That was a lot of questions, I know. Hopefully it will prove to be an encouraging study as we learn from our older brothers and sisters of the early church. See yer’ Sunday!

 

3 comments

  1. I love this! The ill treated disciples go to their church family and the action everyone jumps on board with is prayer!! They don’t say let’s ambush these evil religious folks and give them what they deserve, they give it to the Lord in prayer…even there the prayer is so beautiful…not vengeful not hateful just simply, God you are able to do all things you made everything and everyone so we place this in your hands. They remembered all Jesus faced and how God emboldened Him to endure and press on in His mission and are simply asking for the same strength … they don’t ask for death to their enemies but rather life giving signs to further sway them to the living God..they are embodying the charge to love their enemies and pray for them. Scripture reminds us that it is easy to love those who love us that anyone can do that but He asks us to go beyond the easy stuff and the ability to do so is only a prayer away!! What a great reminder!!
    One of the ladies in our ladies group told of a difficult work situation in which she was the target of harsh treatment from a fellow co-worker. Day after day she endured abuse from this other woman and then she began to pray for her. God gave her kind words to speak to this woman and led her to bring her chocolate and ask her how she could help her. This compassion broke the mean-spirited woman who began to weep and disclose difficulties she had going on to our sister who followed this example…Go God and Theresa for following His path!!! The cycle of evil for evil was broken His love made all the difference!
    A couple of Halloween’s ago we were trick-or-treating with the kids and came to a particular house where after my youngest son said ” trick or treat” expecting to get candy, (now you have to understand, he has autism and when things work a certain way i.e. you say these words, you get candy, he expects it to go that way every time), this particular lady began to question him… withholding the candy while I tried to answer her semi-snide questions for him…he began to whine getting impatient and not understanding why his “formula” had not worked, he had said the words after all…she raised her voice, cussed at him for his impatience and that was all she wrote, 3rd house and the night was ruined…. major freak out, he screamed I hate you at her and ran home bawling and screaming how mean she was , etc… etc…
    Honestly I was pretty peeved myself and am grateful that he ran away and I had to chase him preventing me from choking the woman right there in her garage!!! (kidding) but that was initial thought…..Once we were home, remembering God’s charge to love (this time, not always for sure but hopefully more frequently with His help) I was able to calmly speak to my son, explain that she probably has a pretty miserable past was sad, lonely or lost and we prayed together for the woman. I wrote her an anonymous letter(we didn’t know her) apologizing for my son screaming I hate you to her and explaining that there were several special need kids in the neighborhood who would not know how to respond to questioning in place of candy giving..told her we wished her all the best in the coming year and that we prayed God’s blessings for her. We left it on her doorstep with a silk flower arrangement when she wasn’t home and continued to pray for her as we passed her house driving thru the neighborhood. Now, I don’t know how she received that… I do know that her house went up for sale a few months later and she no longer lives there…
    In both examples, Teresa’s and ours, God took care of the situations. He is sovereign, He is strong, and His ways certainly supreme!!!!

    1. Yes, Julie!!! Praying for those who may seem to be intentionally hurtful, who may actually be hurting so much that they lash out, is the best option. I have been on both sides, the wounder (sadly, regretfully) and the wonded (replaying over and over in my mind the incident, how I should have retorted, why was this done to me!). The acts of compassion and mercy can not go unnoticed, as the Spirit speaks to their hearts. Reading this, wow, girl! Love you, love Theresa, and soo thankful for getting to know you all more!!! Go ladies group!! Go God!!!

  2. We are such vulnerable souls. As we turn on our axis looking out, it would seem that we are the center of our universe. When confronted with mistreatment (whether perceived or intended) perhaps a little reality check is in order like Alan Rickman’s character in Galaxy Quest yelling at Tim Allen’s Jason,
    “Oh, right, of course, it’s always about you, isn’t it!”
    In these passages in Acts and 2nd Psalm, we’re reminded that God is the center of the universe. He made it, he made us, and he placed us here for a reason. And, more to the point, He placed his son, Jesus, beside Him as King.
    During His suffering on earth, Jesus recognized the hand of his Father. As Pontius Pilate reasoned with Him, saying, “Are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and power to release you?” Jesus replied, “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above”.
    This confidence to rest in the Father’s plan is what the disciples recognized as they prayed for boldness to speak His word. Rather than retreat as an injured animal licking its wounds and commiserating with one another at the injustice of the powers that seemingly be, the disciples prayed to the Creator whose mighty Spirit descended unhindered through bricks and mortar, shaking conventional foundation, and filling them as vessels worthy of use in the kingdom.

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