18 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 "This man," they charged, "is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law."
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Today's passage reminds us that while Christ's love will transform our lives for a "right relationship" with God, the transformative power of Christ's salvation in our lives will also disrupt and transforms how we live and relate to a world built on conditional love. Thus, living a life of spiritual integrity is costly to our earthly life because it runs counter to the world's culture. However, if we are faithful to pursue God's love and grace through our faith, God is always committed to grow grace in the world through our lives.
As we reflect on today's passage, we find that as Paul seeks to follow Christ and live a spiritual life of integrity as it has now been informed by his encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus, he is compelled to share his understanding of Christ with a world that didn't appreciate the grace of God found in Christ. Therefore while Paul's "transformative experience," expanded his theological perspective of how God's grace was at work in the world. His new theological understanding exposes him as a threat to the traditional religious custom of his day, labeling him an outsider to the community faith. Thus Paul's desire to proclaim and expand the theological understanding of what he knew to be true about the grace of God in the life of Christ, put in direct opposition with the world and religious community thus making him vulnerable by their charges against him and their exclusion from their community of faith.
However, even when he is exposed and made vulnerable by his faith beliefs, it God who is faithful in harboring and protecting his theological understanding by creating a community for theological understanding to grow. Thus, God affirms and assures Paul's understanding by telling him "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." Thus Paul's courage to live a life of spiritual integrity cultivates the faith in a world of nonbelievers.
Likewise, as we reflect on what it means to be faithful in a world of conditional love, and how God calls us to live a life of spiritual integrity based on love, we must know that the unconditional love that God has called us to proclaim and share with the world, will expose us as a outsiders and counter to the world's culture based on conditions.
Therefore, when we follow God's call to love God with all our mind strength body, and soul and then to love our neighbor as ourselves, we will be made vulnerable to a world of sin.
Yet, while we are made vulnerable by this grace we are called to live by, in this world of conditions, our hope and peace are not based on the conditional material things of this world because Christ stands as our hope for a right relationship with God and the world. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it."
In other words, as we seek to live a life of spiritual integrity it is Christ who empowers us to live a life of faith and love in a world of conditional love, so that one day we may grow and rest in a world of unconditional love where we may live with Christ forever.
God, as I take on the task of this day, help me to surrender my life to your service. Give me the courage to follow your call of love that I may live a life of holy integrity in a world of conditional love and that I may become a conduit of your peace and love in the world today. Amen!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.