Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My last post talked about the amazing offer that Paul extended to the Gentiles, the same offer that Christians offer to others today.

But Paul and the Gentiles were not the only players in that story. There is another piece to the puzzle, another stance that Christians today can take. It is the same stance that the Prodigal's older brother took.

While Paul was out front embracing the Gentiles and extending God's grace to them, the Jews were in the back, cringing at his every word. "When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying."

There are a couple of reasons for this, and they were both probably true.
The Jews could have been jealous of Paul for the response he was getting. When was the last time that a Jewish teacher had drawn such huge crowds? The answer was probably outside of their memory. He must be doing something wrong.
The Jews could have been jealous of the Gentiles for the offer they had been given. Yahweh had been the God of the Jews for thousands of years. He was theirs. Now, suddenly these dirty Gentiles were given the same benefits that they were. It wasn't fair.

We as Christians do the same things today. We are jealous when we see success in others. The church that explodes in attendance or recognition must be doing something wrong. They are selling cheap grace or not being hard enough on sin or skipping some important step. We create every excuse we can to explain away their success (or our lack thereof).
We are jealous when we see someone who has led a life of sin receive unconditional love. They have done terrible things and we're just supposed to forget that? We are supposed to pretend they haven't hurt people, they have done disgusting things, they haven't soiled their soul while we were faithful? It isn't fair.

Loving messed-up people is work. Accepting people who are glaringly imperfect is hard (those who are better at hiding imperfection are both easier and harder to accept). Dealing with sin is heart and soul wrenchingly painful.

It is taking up your cross.
It is dying to self.
It is loving your neighbor.
It is loving God.
It is our mission.

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