Living the Word Today seeks to provide brief devotional thoughts for daily living from a passage of Scripture. It is not meant to be academic exegesis, but a humble attempt to listen to God’s voice through His written Word.
Scripture Passage: Acts 22:17-29 based on the LCMS Daily Lectionary for July 26
Meditation: Paul continues his defense before the hostile crowd in Jerusalem, before it comes to an abrupt end. He tells of an earlier time in the Temple. The Lord spoke to him, “Quick! Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me” (22:18). He left Jerusalem that time, but this time will be different.
Paul continues his defense, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles'” (22:21). The situation changed drastically from complete silence to a bomb exploding in their midst. On hearing these words, Paul’s Jewish audience shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” (22:22). Wow! The hostility from the crowd could be felt!
Why the harsh response? Why did the mention of God sending Paul to the Gentiles invoke such strong emotion? The idea that God would send Paul to non-Jews stirred their deep anger and resentment toward Gentiles generally, and probably the Romans specifically. The long history of Jewish oppression by Gentiles rose quickly to consciousness.
Is Jewish prejudice against Gentiles the only prejudice that we can think of? No, it isn’t. We all have prejudices whether we own them or not. For the Jews, it was the Gentiles. For us, who is it? Who is it that we are prejudice against? What if someone told you that God sent them to that group? How would react? What if God sent you to them?
Christians are called to a disturbing truth! Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Paul speaks of this as the mystery of Christ, he says, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:6). We are all in this together as human beings.
What about our prejudices? How can we be one in Christ with those whom we are prejudice against? What is the possibility of our coming to unity in Christ? If we do not first put our prejudices aside, then how can we even reach out to them with the gospel which unifies us?
Meditate on God’s Word. Draw close to God each day. Listen to His Word for you.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.