S (Scripture): Acts 18:5 Now when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 18:6 When they opposed him and reviled him, he protested by shaking out his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am guiltless! From now on I will go to the Gentiles!” 18:7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went to the house of a person named Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.
O (Observation): Rough times for Paul…but perhaps a good experience in retrospect. Sometimes the Jews just couldn’t handle the Messiah looking and acting like Jesus. I think Paul just said: “You can’t handle the truth!”
A (Application): Sometimes the religious establishment is just too closed-minded. I love being Lutheran. Our motto is “Semper Reformonda”, always reforming. (But we admit that we do have our faults, too.)
We are called to use our faith and reason to help us discern what God is saying to us. When we get too provincial, we start telling the world why they are wrong and demand they come around to our way of thinking and believing.
Here is a testament to how Christians are perceived as being judgmental (and perhaps are justified). I just did a Google search (on iPhone) of “why are Christians so” and this is a screenshot of the top results:
That’s a bummer that the top results weren’t “why are Christians so happy, joyful, selfless?”
Maybe we know what Paul was going through, after all.
Some of us are built like Peter, challenging the establishment to open up to “outsiders” (like non-churched, de-churched, non-believers). Some of us are built like Paul, going directly to the “outsiders.” For both Peter and Paul, they see God’s love as open to all people. They weren’t just trying to build numbers, but share God’s inclusive love.
(Side note: I know that using the term “outsiders” could be considered a judgment in and of itself. I’m just picking a term to use for conversation. “Outsider” here simply means one who does not believe Jesus Christ is Lord.)
Which are you? Peter? Paul? A little of both?
P (Prayer): Lord, you call us to different paths. Help us to be faithful to the path laid out for each of us. Amen.