On a search for the origin of Keep calm and carry on I found this longer version of it, that “Keep Calm” meant, “We may be suffering something of an invasion at the moment, but that’s no reason to start acting in a rash and hot-headed manner. We may be a subjugated nation but we are not about to start acting like savages.”
And the “Carry on” bit meant, “As a nation, we’ve been trained to look past the bad behaviour of our rudest guests, especially the uninvited ones, and rather than cause a scene, we shall just go about our daily business as if nothing has happened.”
It’s a little difficult fitting all that on a cup or poster, but it easily fits in a scared mind. Which reminded me that it was God who came up with the “Keep calm and carry on” message first, for a very scared man called Paul nineteen hundred years earlier.
The circumstances were a little different, in that Paul wasn’t facing an invasion of planes with bombs intent on blowing up British cities and killing thousands of civilians, but he was being faced with the threat of “subjugation” by the “bad behaviour” of some very rude people.
And all he was trying to do was prove from Scripture to his fellow countryfolk “that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah),” which was the best news they’d heard after hundreds of years of hoping for the Messiah’s arrival. But, as Acts 18:6 continues, “the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive.”
In ‘Greek speak’ the word abusive in that verse means “blasphemous,” meaning totally disrespectful of God, even to the use of profanity. It was total madness, because these people weren’t even interested in the facts of their own history or the marvellous prophecies of what the Messiah would do, repeated dozens of times in their scriptures.
It was scary stuff, because it was they who were now “acting like savages.” And in their own minds they’d justified it too. They felt totally free, therefore, to slander, censure, condemn and stigmatize Paul as a law-despising enemy undermining the very fabric of their culture (verse 13).
So Paul knew he was in deep trouble, because there was no reasoning with them. In their state of mind these people would stop at nothing to have him silenced, and only that would do.
But, fortunately, God knew. He also knew that Paul, stalwart fellow that he was, having been beaten up and abused by mad crowds before, was really scared this time. There was something more going on, more sinister, more evil, more twisted, more unrelenting, and more hateful – and from his own countryfolk too. It was like men and women who’d been friends for years turning on each other in unbelievable savagery in times of war.
So, “One night,” verse 9, “the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision” – like a dream, perhaps? Whatever it was, the message was clear: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.” In other words, “Keep calm and carry on.” Don’t, as the longer version of it stated at the beginning of this article, “start acting in a rash and hot-headed manner,” but rather “go about your daily business as if nothing has happened.”
And the reason for God saying that was because “I have many people in this city,” verse 10, who desperately needed such a man as Paul to get that message about Jesus across loud and clear. Because Jesus being the Messiah and fulfillment of every good news prophecy in the Old Testament is our only hope of a better world, free from the mass formation hypnosis caused by the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4), free from corrupt and emperor-seeking politicians, and free from our own culture-tainted minds (Romans 12:2).
Above, and yet with us in this mess of ours, is Jesus, sent by God to save this world, so any corrections that need to be done, he will do them.
All good reasons for us to “Keep calm and…..”