Acts 18:9 Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent.  For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.”
…your action as a defender and comforter of the weak and overwhelmed may be the payment on a promise God made to someone else.
My wife and I raised our kids in a small town where the major news was a championship football game or a city council decision to modify a park. Pretty quiet. It’s a small enough town that when people wave it’s not just done out of country courtesy but familiarity. People know each other. It’s also the town where people often leave their doors unlocked. I did that.
I don’t remember what wee hour of the morning it was when my wife startled me out of my sleep, “I think someone’s in our car!” I leaped to the window and could see the dome light on in my Oldsmobile Firenza parked in the street. Someone was in our car! I don’t think I’ll ever forget how incensed I felt at the brazen injustice of that trespass. Compelled by that emotion, I threw on my robe and charged out the front door. I can remember my wife’s bewildered voice chasing me, “James! What are you doing?!”
Halfway to the car, that’s the very question I asked the perpetrator in the most authoritative voice I had. A man about six and a half feet tall, leaned in the driver’s side digging around my console, quickly stood up. I was rounding the car without a halt in my pace. We made eye contact. “Oh no,” he said. “Oh no’s right,” I responded. I tackled him to the ground and pinned him until the police arrived.
My wife thought I’d lost my mind. “What if he’d had a gun or a knife? You could have been hurt! You should have stayed inside and just called the police.”
Those are all good ideas but something about the injustice drove me to action without much thought of repercussion.
You might have the same visceral response to personal injustice but how do you feel when it’s an injustice against some other person? Would I have been so quick to act if I had seen that man digging around someone else’s car? Probably not. Wouldn’t have felt the same. Wouldn’t have acted the same.
But what does God expect?
In Paul’s vision on this night, God tells him to fear not, that He is with him, that He has many people in the city of Corinth. God’s people were a part of His plan to counter the injustice Paul was suffering! I think it’s fair to shorten that for our own application today: God’s people are a part of His plan to counter injustice.
For a moment, imagine a single mom who’s fled an abusive relationship. She’s found shelter in your community but feels alone and frightened. God speaks to her in a vision and says the same thing He said to Paul, “Fear not. I am with you and I have many people in this city.” Are you one of those people? Whether you are or not is one thing. Responding to and confronting injustice is another.
Are you a comforter? Are you a defender? An encourager? Are you a support to the weak?
Jesus is on a global mission of justice or justification; to make things right as they should be. As Christians, we are a part of that wherever we live for as long as we live. Coupling that truth with the Holy Spirit’s conviction may cause you to charge injustice even when it’s an injustice against someone else.
Don’t be surprised if a relative or loved one thinks you’ve lost your mind as you charge out the door. “What are you doing? You could get hurt! Call someone else!”
Just shout back God’s promise, “He has many people in this city. And I’m one of them!”
We are His people in that city and your action as a defender and comforter of the weak and overwhelmed may be the payment on a promise God made to someone else. Don’t miss the opportunity.