“Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord, and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (Acts13:46-48)
At the risk of losing favor with fellow Christians, Paul and Barnabas still follow the higher plane of taking the gospel to all people. Faith leads to eternal life; rejecting Christ forfeits hope for eternal life.
The missionaries realized that salvation was “first for the Jew” but also for the Greeks or Gentiles (Romans 1:16). It is for all who will respond. Believers of all backgrounds honor God with their changed lives and experience God’s joy.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, You sent Paul and Silas into the synagogue, among the Jewish community they has once come from and initially they were accepted, but when they began to talk about Jesus, they were not greeted as favored guests and the people began to speak unfavorably about them. Paul and Silas then told them boldly, by taking the gospel to all people by taking the higher plane with them. They said, ‘We had to speak the word of God to you first, and now we turn to the Gentiles; they were glad and honored the word of the Lord and all others believed. We pray for all of these and many more not mentioned, who further the kingdom of God in all their locations in Jesus’ name pray. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“God loves you whether you like it or not.”
“He said to them: ‘You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I cam without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?’ Cornelius answered: ‘For days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea. So I sent for yo immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us. Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:28–35)
Peter’s vision was fresh insight to him. Yet, at root is is the same inclusiveness for God’s message of faith finally understood by Jonah. Perhaps no prejudice is more dangerous or difficult to displace than one held in place by religious tradition. Place of birth, cultural tradition, color of skin, sex, race, and nationality seem to separate us. The gospel calls us all together as one family in God’s holy church. Amen?
“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and he exact places where they should love.” (Acts 17:26)
This verse has been used to defend racism on the grounds that certain ethnic groups should “go back to where they came from” or “stay where they belong.” The verse is part of the larger context of Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill dealing with the sovereignty of God. Thus, the primary discussion is God-centered or theological and not man-centered or anthropological. Rather tan supporting God-ordained racial superiority, this verse portrays the encompassing love of God for all people. From creation onward we share common characteristics as members of God’s created family. Creation joins us together rather than separates us!
Second Thought of the Day:
Jesus told Jews that Samaritans who help in self-giving love make the best neighbor. Self-giving love overcomes racial barriers. As a young boy, I met a man in our church who was black and worked as a custodian. He saw me one day being less than graceful by calling a fellow friend an ugly name. He stopped me and the first thing he told me was that His name was Mr. Ollie and my name was Mr. Jerry. He explained the name was not racial, but he was pretty sure I wouldn’t want my mother to hear me using it. We became fast friends and I learned to respect him. It didn’t dawn on me right away, but he took a risk that day by calling me down. He was nice, respectful towards others and when I think of neighbor, his face would come into my mind. A few years ago, I happened to see he had passed away and I went to his service to pay my respects to his family. When asked if anyone wanted to say anything about Mr. Ollie, I stood up and told everyone there my story and how I had learned respect and honor from my friend and that I had come to love him. We all have a story, beloved. This was mine and I will never forget the day I met Mr. Ollie. I wish more people were like him.
“In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Soon a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his woulds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man of his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins, and gave them to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘God and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:30–37)
Tensions between two races have never been higher than those between Jews and Samaritans, though it has long been an issue in America between whites and blacks or whites and native American Indians or whites and Africans, or well, you get the idea. We don’t always like to point out times when we and others around the world have not gotten along.