The Ironic Initiative

My heart is breaking for the families of the victims of the racial terrorist attack in South Carolina last Wednesday. Only the grace of God will heal these wounds – it’s hard to imagine how God could bring something good out of this act of evil.  As followers of Christ, let’s remember that racial prejudice has no place in God’s kingdom. It is a malevolent evil that God will surely judge. Let’s be quick to reject all forms of it – and through it all, let’s pray for peace.

This Sunday we’ll be reading Acts 16:11-40. It’s a passage filled with irony, and we’ll consider the way God seems to employ irony in the way he leads us through this adventure. Situational irony is when a series of events lead to an unexpected result.

For instance, gunpowder was discovered in the process of looking for the elixir for immortality. That’s irony.

In the section we’ll be reading we’ll see several examples of “divine irony” – where expectations get upended and surprising results are revealed. Paul and Silas go to Philippi in search of a man Paul saw in a vision only to find a group of women, one of whom God plants the 1st church of Philippi through.

A girl is demonically inspired to declare the truth about Paul and Silas and Paul, an emissary of truth stops her from saying it.

The same girl is set free from spiritual bondage which results in a loss of physical freedom for Paul and Silas.

Paul and Silas are in the worst of situations and use it as a cause for singing praise songs.

An earthquake opens the jail doors and breaks the chains but Paul and Silas remain inside the jail.

The man who does great harm to Paul and Silas is warned not to harm himself.

In all of these things God is using terrible situations to shape beautiful things. It’s just his way. How has life gone a different direction than the way you expected – how can factoring in God’s employment of irony help us to cope with bad situations?

2 comments

  1. The heartbreaking situations we live through in this life, I truly believe make us more pleasing (beautiful) to God. If we allow God to work in our lives, the hurts and disappointments make us more compassionate, more understanding, less judgmental, and loving people. The key is if we allow God to work in our lives.

  2. Rob, as I was listening and thinking (ironic?) this morning I considered the jailers request for help how to be saved from harm from the authorities. So many times isn’t asking for salvation much the same. One is in harms way, threatened, lost, defeated? The chains must come off, the door opened and simply ask for salvation. Then there is that comfort and protection to follow. As with the jailer he felt he was is such peril the only way out was to end it all. The chains removed and doors opened to see the ones who cared about him that had the answer. God provided shame and guilt to those in authority and that would deminish worldly harm. Jesus did and will provide for eternity for those that desire Him and ask.

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