by Brian Knitter
Paul would always begin at the synagogue in any new town he (and Barnabas this trip) visited. Why? Because Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, and there were no Christian churches to go to; at least not initially. Paul wanted to first speak to those who knew of the prophesies. He wanted to speak to those with whom he was most familiar: fellow Pharisees. Those who understood believed. Since there were many "Gentiles" also listening, many of them believed. It was truly the most effective way to get the message out at that time. And God was in it as well, evidenced by the miracles Paul and Barnabas were able to perform. Problem is, it also had a high probability of ticking people off. People in charge do not like change unless they are the ones changing things. Paul was offering radical change. It's no wonder then that the fine "stiff-necked" citizens and leaders of Iconium decided to mistreat and stone Paul and Barnabas at the first opportunity. God allowed them to escape, only to have the same thing happen at the next town (more on this next week!).
Sometimes, as we say in our church, you do spell faith: R-I-S-K. Paul and Barnabas were willing to put their very lives at stake for the sake of the Gospel; willing to RISK so that some could be saved. In our very comfortable environment, this may seem frightening to us, but God tells us to do the same. Paul and Barnabas put their trust in God first; we should do no less. We also run a very small risk of being stoned.