Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Paul and Barnabas are sent out (after a word from the Lord) and begin their missionary work. In Psidian Antioch, they meet at the Jewish synagogues to preach the good news. In doing so, Paul recounts the history of Israel, starting with "God chose our forefathers..."

Put yourself in the place of the Gentiles at the meeting. There were those there who feared God, but were simply born into the wrong race. They were excluded from the promise. They were outsiders, outcasts who for years had heard that God loved someone else. Put yourself in their place, your heart sinking as Paul recounts the history of his people, but not yours. Paul tells about his savior, but not yours. You would feel dirty, neglected, left out and unappreciated.

Fast forward 2000 years. You've heard about Jesus, but you've also seen the way that Christians respond to those who mess up or struggle with certain issues. They label them, tell jokes about them, look down on them or simply ignore them. They scoff at those who have yet to hear and believe or who struggle with changing their life. Not all Christians do this, but the loud ones do. The ones in the news do. The ones you hear about outside of church do.

Paul repeats God's words to the people:
"I have made you a light for the Gentiles (sinners), that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."

Look at their reaction:
"When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord..."
A few verses later:
"And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit."

Imagine the weight lifting from the shoulders and spirits of the Gentiles when they heard this message. Salvation could be theirs, despite who their fathers were. Forgiveness could be theirs, despite what they had done. God's loving embrace could be theirs, despite what they had been told in the past.

We have the same message to offer sinners that Paul offered to Gentiles. But, in order to offer it, we have to mean it and live it.

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