I am a news junkie…which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s kind of an addiction…I always need to know what’s happening in the world and I can definitely allow the incessant checking of Fox News (don’t judge me…I just like their pictures) and the fast-food version of the news called Twitter, drain significant chunks of my time daily! Here’s the worst part of it…the news is never good. Most of the news is just one horrific story of tragedy after another! For me it’s like the proverbial train wreck that some part of you doesn’t want to see but for the life of you…you can’t take your eyes off of it. The more you see of it…the less you trust the world..and the people in it. People are pretty screwed up! Entire countries are jacked up. Take Syria for example… How many of you are booking that summer vacation to Damascus right now? Anyone? The more horrible news we see…the deeper the confirmation that there are pretty dark places in the world today…and some pretty dark hearts in people.
In the verses in Acts listed above, we have a couple of missionaries sent by their church in a place called Antioch to an island called Cyprus. More specifically, they travel to a town called Paphos. Paphos was known as a pretty dark place. There was no Christian witness there…and the god that was worshipped most was the Greek goddess Venus. She was the goddess of lust so you can kind of imagine what was going down in that place.
In the story, the missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, are put into contact with a man named Sergius Paulus and his magical homeboy Elymas. Sergius is a pretty powerful local politician and Elymas is kind of like his personal Criss Angel. These guys are definitely not followers of God. But Sergius is a little bi-God curious and he invites Paul and Barnabas to come and tell him about the God they are preaching about.
As the story goes, that’s exactly what they do and Elymas gets a little jealous of the whole deal and begins to try and refute the gospel and bends the ear of Sergius in an attempt to drag him back to the dark side. Paul then confronts Elymas…insults him a few times and then pronounces a curse of blindness on Elymas. Then we find out that God is not a big fan of illusions because Paul’s little trick was the real deal and Elymas is actually blinded. The story ends with Sergius seeing what happened to his gospel refuting buddy and turning in faith and then believing the message he was hearing from the missionaries.
Yes…there are some dark places in this world and there are some dark hearts in a lot of people. The truth is If I were to be honest…my heart can be pretty dark sometimes too. Sometimes what we see on the news can pale in comparison to what is in our own hearts and minds. Even as a believer, sin can still make me so jaded and bitter as to think there are places in this world that are unreachable. That there are people in this world that are unreachable. That I am unreachable. But it isn’t true.
You see the gospel of Christ was designed to be carried into the darkest of places for it is there that the glory of God shines the brightest. Some of us grew up singing “This little light of mine”…but I can assure you the gospel of Jesus is no little light that is barely a flame and in danger of being overwhelmed by the darkness. The gospel is nuclear. It is full of power. Power that can change the darkest of places…and the darkest of hearts.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)