Unpopular Power

Only when the power of a personal experience exceeds the power of popularity does one persist in proclaiming the unpopular.


Acts 28:22 But we would like to hear from you what you think. For concerning this sect, we are aware that it is spoken against everywhere.

When I was a school kid, I believed in sitting on the front row. I believed in math and science. I believed in straight A’s.  I believed in a lot that made me really unpopular. I can still recall the feelings of rejection and insecurity. Seventh grade was the pinnacle of this ostracizing and it’s when I turned.  I grew tired of being the kid who was spoken against because of what he believed.  So, my belief changed. I started believing in running with the wrong crowd, sneaking out of my house at night, drinking and smoking. Why? The power of popularity.  It’s still something that works on me, but to some degree, I think it works on us all.  We all want to be accepted, to be affirmed, to be loved. The power of that innate desire is enough to cause many to reject what they believe, to ignore personal conviction, to repress truth.

Oh, how I admire Paul! He was a man rejected and here we learn the very thing he believed and professed was “spoken against everywhere.” Everywhere? Talk about unpopularity!

Remember speech class.  Hated it, right?  The nervousness of thinking that everyone would laugh at you or think less of you after you fumbled your words and forgot what you’re supposed to say.  Put yourself there again, except this time the crowd is full of people who are a lot like you.  For me, that would have been a bunch of kids who liked math and science and sitting on the front row. For you, maybe the same, or maybe it would have been a room full of football quarterbacks or cheer leaders. Every one of them is as qualified as you to make the address, but you’re the one and as you take the stage, you begin your persuasive speech.  Your worst fears come true. Some get up and walk out, some sneer, some just laugh.  Could you imagine ever trying that speech a second time?

Only when the power of a personal experience exceeds the power of popularity does one persist in proclaiming the unpopular.

And for Paul, it had.  The persuasive speech was the Gospel, a Roman prison his stage and Jewish peers his audience.  Some walked out, some sneered and I’m sure some laughed at the ludicrous message of the Jewish Messiah a lowly carpenter who not only failed to conquer Roman rule, but was crucified at their hands. Does that sound like a powerful King? But Paul had experienced the power. A light blinded him. A voice boomed from heaven. Scales fell from his eyes.  The power of his personal experience literally bound him to preach the Gospel regardless of its unpopularity.

Two thousand years later in our western culture, the Message still seems ludicrous to many and it seems fewer are preaching it with power. Maybe each of us should pray for a deeper and more powerful encounter; our own blinding light, a voice from heaven and a personal miracle. The power of the experience may compel us with a new conviction and passion to preach an unpopular message in a popular world.

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