Summary: Discovering the Reality of Life from Dorothy and her friends
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour.”
This morning we are going to take a journey together. A journey down the pathway of scripture and a journey for many of us down memory lane. Back to those childhood days when we first saw the movie classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” In this familiar cinema great, Dorothy and her little dog, Toto are transported by a cyclone from their home in Kansas to the amazing land of Oz, where she eventually connects with three travel companions. The scare crow, The Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.
Together this unlikely group endeavors to find hope…. And home. In so many ways their search resembles the search of every person. To find hope, and home.
In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas find themselves in an unenviable situation. They are in Philippi during Paul’s second missionary journey, and as part of their practice they daily went to this place that scripture calls “the place of prayer.” Philippi is a major city in the region known as Macedonia, yet it has little Jewish influence, and there is no synagogue. So Paul and Silas would go to “the place of prayer,” this would be the place were the Jewish believers would gather.
Verse 16 of Acts chapter 16 sets the scene:
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." 18And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour. 19But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."
The owners of the slave girl were not at all happy that Paul had interfered with their money maker and then next thing Paul and Silas knew, they found themselves standing in front of the magistrate, and then beaten, flogged, and imprisoned. They weren’t just imprisoned, scripture tells us that they were place in the inner cell and were placed in stocks. The stocks served in those days as both a form of security, and a form of torture. They were in a horrendous place.
Yet, as we catch a glimpse at their dilemma through the window of scripture we find them praying and singing hymns to God. It is reminiscent of Acts 5:41, when the apostles were excited when they had stood before the Sanhedrin and cast out... the apostles rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace in the name of Jesus.
Why would these men, these followers of Christ rejoice in the midst of suffering? What kind of joy is it that counts it a blessing to suffer? What kind of disposition does it take for a prisoner to sing hymns of praise? What kind of Joy is it that caused the disciples when facing death in face, viewed it as a great victory?
This joy that we see embodied in Paul and Silas impromptu praise session in the jail is the joy that Christ Jesus came to reveal. John 15:11, Jesus says, “I tell you this that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
It is God’s desire for us to have this possession, this disposition of joy.
It is in pursuit of this joy that we find our friends in the movie classic, The Wizard of Oz, travelling down the yellow brick road. Each one of the character would give a slightly different definition to joy, but each one is looking for that which they perceive would fill the void in their life, that would bring a sense of completeness to their world.
The Scare Crow – If I only had a brain (pursuing wisdom)