17:5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
In the Old Testament there is a story of two women coming to King Solomon seeking justice. They both claim they are the mother of a single baby and that the other woman's baby died. To settle the matter King Solomon calls for a servant to cut the baby in half and give each woman a half. I mean after all he doesn't have the benefit of DNA testing.
One woman is happy with this decision while the other is beside herself with grief and insists on allowing the other woman to have the child unharmed. Now Solomon knows what he needed to know and gives the unharmed baby to the woman in distress. The other woman didn't want the baby. She just couldn't stand seeing another mother with a baby after she list her own.
It's from stories like these that we get our expression "misery loves company".
When Paul and his team arrived in Thessalonica there was a single Jewish synagogue. From the description it seems it was a fairly large one yet insignificant in comparison to the larger secular and/or non-Jewish community. After Paul presented the case for Jesus being the long awaited Jewish Messiah the synagogue was split. Many, especially of the Greeks and women became Christians. The rest threw a hissy fit, literally.
The question is why? Why were bloodline Jews less likely to believe in their own Messiah than Greek converts and why was their reaction so over the top against Paul? What happened to "live and let live"?
Well we don't have to guess. The text tells us plainly they were envious. Envious of what? The Greek word here is awesome. It's a word picture of a pot that is boiling over. These men are boiling with jealousy. Already they were a minority in Thessalonica. Now their minority has been cut in half. We're back to another turf war. They refuse to believe Jesus is their Messiah preferring to hold out for a war hero who will carrying them to dizzying heights of wealth and power. In the meantime losing so many to Paul and his ideas is costing them money and influence and they are boiling.
What do they do?
They gather up some thugs from the downtown core, launch a riot, and go on a man hunt.. Perfectly mature normal behaviour for rabbis and Synagogue leaders...
Anger is not always wrong. Neither is jealousy. Both have a proper place. How do I know when my anger and jealousy is misguided, warped, and essentially evil?
The answer is simple but uncomfortable. If my anger is about defending me and my interests it is unholy anger. If my jealousy is self-focused the same applies. God is a jealous God but He is not jealous for personal gain. He is jealously guarding our well-being. He sent His Son to make that clear. Jesus was only described as angry twice in His time here on earth. Both times it was the mistreatment of others that made His blood boil.
Love is others focused and it is jealous for the well-being of others and gets angry when they are abused. Evil is self-obsessed and only gets angry for selfish reasons.
Love will walk away to save her child. Evil will kill a child to get some sense of satisfaction.
It's true that much harm has been done in the name of religion because religion devoid of God and His self-sacrificing love is a system of selfishness capable of the worst kinds of evil.
We choose. Choose wisely. Choose love. Love Wins.