What is this charge, really?
Guilt refers to a feeling of having done something bad or a perception that you did something wrong. Guilt by association means that you personally didn’t really do something wrong but that people who you are associated with did. You are judged by the company you keep, so you can be viewed as guilty because of your association with wrongdoers.
In the continuing journey of Paul and Silas, to go where God’s Spirit led them, many believed the Truth of Jesus as the Messiah the Jews had been reading about all their lives. Then there were those, the hardline traditional Jews, who vehemently opposed the testimony of Paul and his associates about Jesus. This is one of those episodes.
But friends, all of a sudden in the middle of the story, we read about Jason. We have no previously information about Jason. We learn quickly that he is charged with harboring Paul and Silas. He and his family are roughed up and hauled off to jail. “Guilt by association” is the only charge logged against Jason and his household.
Whoa, Jason! That is so unfair! But life is not fair. Truth is not always accepted. Truth can actually anger those who would rather continue living the lies of evil to satisfy their present circumstances.
I wonder about Jason and his family and I think: If in today’s world, if Truth was hunted down with clearly driven goals to destroy Truth, would I and my family be charged with “guilt by association”? Would you and your household? Who or what do we really believe to be really real? Who are we associate with today? Do our associations bring life or…
Let’s pause, taking all the time we need, to think this through for there is coming a day (and is already here for some around the world) where believers will be and are persecuted for following Jesus with all their hearts, minds and souls. Are we like Jason and his family, guilty by association with Truth, fully absorbed with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives?
ACTS—God’s Actions through His Disciples
Acts 17:1-12, The Message
1-3 They took the road south through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, where there was a community of Jews. Paul went to their meeting place, as he usually did when he came to a town, and for three Sabbaths running he preached to them from the Scriptures. He opened up the texts so they understood what they’d been reading all their lives: that the Messiah absolutely had to be put to death and raised from the dead—there were no other options—and that “this Jesus I’m introducing you to is that Messiah.”
4-5 Some of them were won over and joined ranks with Paul and Silas, among them a great many God-fearing Greeks and a considerable number of women from the aristocracy. But the hard-line Jews became furious over the conversions. Mad with jealousy, they rounded up a bunch of brawlers off the streets and soon had an ugly mob terrorizing the city as they hunted down Paul and Silas.
5-7 They broke into Jason’s house, thinking that Paul and Silas were there. When they couldn’t find them, they collared Jason and his friends instead and dragged them before the city fathers, yelling hysterically, “These people are out to destroy the world, and now they’ve shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear! And Jason is hiding them, these traitors and turncoats who say Jesus is king and Caesar is nothing!”
8-9 The city fathers and the crowd of people were totally alarmed by what they heard. They made Jason and his friends post heavy bail and let them go while they investigated the charges.
10-12 That night, under cover of darkness, their friends got Paul and Silas out of town as fast as they could.
WHAT WE LEARN
Jason and his family had to pay a high monetary price for believing. They were humiliated in front of their friends in the community as they were dragged into the street for all to see. They were roughed up and probably spat on as they faced the town leaders. Fear probably crept into their minds as the manipulated mob grew angrier by the second. Then the investigation began. When guilt by association didn’t quite hold up they were let go. Does this sound familiar to what Jesus went through before He died for our sins? He pronounced guilty for our sins!
No matter what we go through, Jesus has already gone through it before us in victory. He has already won the war; we merely and humbly experience the last-ditch skirmishes provided by the limited evil prince of this world. His only goal is to use us up and throw us away to get even with God as he works hard to win us back from God. So, who are we associated with in this life? The Liar or the Lover of our Souls?
I sticking with the Victor. How about you? If the charge is guilt by association, then I am guilty as charged. I am not only associated with Jesus; I am one of His branches attached to His Vine with roots of Truth deeply embedded within me. I’m redeemed. And I’m not going back.
Our “association” goes much deeper. We have a growing, intimate, loving relationship that fills my soul, makes we whole, rids me of all guilt that stands between You and myself. You are Lord as well as Savior. You cleanse me, Your Spirit washing over me as I completely surrender to you. You restore the joy of your salvation while renewing the power of Your Spirit who lives in me. You love me like no one else can. You teach me and keep me on solid, level ground. Why would I trust anyone else? You protect me under your outstretched wings. When I take steps away from your protection, like a hen over her chicks, you draw me back in. Yes, you are God and I am not. I am guilty of loving you with all my heart, mind and soul. I’m Yours.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen