What I’m Thinking: People, Not Things

Sometimes people treat people as if they were things. The Apostle Paul showed how powerful it can be if you treat people like people.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the sixteenth chapter of Acts of the Apostles (Acts 16:16-34). In one sense, it tells a very common story: it describes the Apostle Paul being thrown into jail.

That happened to him a lot.

But there’s also some things that aren’t quite so common. It begins with Paul exorcising a “spirit of divination” from a slave girl. Her value to her owners was, in fact, her ability to, through this demon, to say something about the future. With that ability gone, they have Paul and his companions thrown into jail.

But then there’s an earthquake, and Paul and his companions could escape, but they do not. Instead, they stay and reassure the jailer, who otherwise was threatening to take his own life at this failure in his responsibilities.

Both the slave girl and the jailer have something in common (despite one being at the very bottom of the society’s ladder and the other being fairly close): that is, their value to other people, well, they get treated like things.

Not like people.

The young woman is only valuable as long as she’s got this spirit of oppression that makes her say and do things that she otherwise would not. The jailer? Well, as long as he keeps the prisoners behind bars, he’s fine. But he is disposable – even ready to dispose of himself – the moment it seems like he is no longer able to do that which he’s been appointed to do, despite the fact that an earthquake is, by anyone’s standards, an act of God.

Here, of course, very much so an act of God.

The Apostle Paul treats both of these people as human beings, healing the one and not claiming his own liberty in order to free the other.

It’s been said that humanity’s greatest sin is when we treat other people as if they were things. Here in Acts of the Apostles, we find at least two instances of early Christian leaders seeking to do the opposite:

To treat people as people.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on May 26, 2019

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