As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. Acts 16:16
Generally, I write about my own life struggles, sticking to the things I know – like addiction. If I don’t have any experience with something, I don’t have a lot to say about it. The problem is that in reading and writing through the New Testament, I invariably encounter issues with which I don’t identify. Today’s passage is one of those that would be easy just to skip over because it doesn’t apply to me. That though, is perhaps the problem with human trafficking. I’m privileged enough that it doesn’t affect me, and so, I don’t really care about it.
This seems to be Paul’s experience in the passage. In the story, Paul and Silas encountered a slave girl who, possessed by an evil spirit, had some power to tell fortunes and futures. The girl’s owners made a lot of money by exploiting her. When Paul and Silas met her, they didn’t immediately cast out the spirit. The girl though, followed them for days, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation (Acts 16:17).” Eventually, after days of this, Paul became perturbed and cast her spirit out. I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her (Acts 16:18). It seems Paul didn’t want to get involved in this slave girl’s life, until her condition annoyed him.
The text doesn’t criticize Paul’s initial indifference, but I will. Paul wasn’t made perfect when he came to Christ and even if it was out of cultural ignorance, he was human and still made mistakes. Paul knew the girl was possessed and being exploited by her owners. In that society though, this arrangement was apparently pretty normal, so Paul felt no need to get involved until he was personally inconvenienced.
That of course, is the problem. If some evil doesn’t affect us, or if we come to accept it as a thing that just happens, we don’t feel the need to address it. It’s true that we don’t have the capability or responsibility to crusade for every issue. We must not though, simply overlook evil when we see it just because it doesn’t directly affect us. That is how such terrible evil is allowed to exist – when enough good people are willing to ignore it.