Paul and the Snake
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
My wife doesn’t care for snakes. One thing she made me promise before we were married is that we would never have pet snakes or lizards in our house. I am not a huge fan of snakes myself and I was in love and so that was an easy promise to make! I have heard of many stories about escaped snakes in people’s homes and there is just something about the idea of having a snake loose in the house that is rather disconcerting to me.
My experiences with snakes have been limited: I played with little snakes that I would catch when I was young, have found it interesting to be around boa constrictors and other snakes at zoos, and have even been around rattlesnakes in the wild. Rattlesnakes plain scare me and I have no desire to have them anywhere close to me!
In today’s 28 for 1,000 reading of Acts 28, it brings you to the story of when Paul was shipwrecked. In Acts 28:3-5 you see that once they made it to shore everyone pitched in to make a fire. Paul was also helping gather wood for the fire and out of the collection of branches a snake struck out and bit Paul on his hand. That is enough to make your heart stop! Everyone was shocked and they rushed to judgement about Paul being a very evil person who had escaped death by shipwreck but now was going to die by from a snake bite.
Paul, however, shook the snake off and went about his business. When he didn’t die, they all thought it was a miracle and thought he was some kind of god. Paul then went into someone’s house and was able to heal them of illness and soon all the sick on the island were coming to be healed.
There is much to learn from this passage. Firstly, Paul was involved in the needs of the people around him; they needed warmth, so, he gathered wood to help provide for that need. Secondly, we see that when we are involved in our communities and doing the will of God that attacks will come. We can be paralyzed by the attacks or we can shake it off and continue doing what God has called us to do. And thirdly, we look for ways to bring healing into our communities. Health ministries and bringing healing to people through health principles is still something our communities need.
Finally, we can share the good news about Jesus to those who are now ready to listen. The rest of Acts 28 details how Paul, even while a prisoner, would invite people to come so he could talk to them about Jesus. And in Acts 28:30 it says that Paul welcomed all who came to see him.
Let us as a conference see the needs in our community, work to provide for the needs, shake off the attacks of the evil one, and share the good news of a loving Jesus to all people who are willing to listen.