In Acts 22 we find Paul on the defensive against the Jews. Once again the Jews have incited the crowds against Paul. Their problem? They say Paul is teaching against their people, their law, and that he brought a Gentile into the temple (see Acts 21:28-29). So, Paul addresses them and tells them his testimony. He starts (v.3) with himself and where’s he’s from,
“I am a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia.”
Then he backtracks to what his life and thoughts were before encountering Christ,
“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.”
He definitely had a passion for persecuting Christ’s followers. After this he talks about his Damascus Road experience (see Acts 9) and the change it brought in his life. Towards the end of his talk Paul begins telling the crowd about God’s plan for him (v.18-21). This is where things heat up. After Paul tells them that God has specifically sent him to the Gentiles, the crowd goes nuts (v.22-23). If you listen as you read this passage you can hear them yelling and screaming at Paul, “I don’t want to hear it!”
As soon as Paul talks about the Gentiles (and God’s plan for them) they get upset. I’m curious if we still act like that today. What do you think? Do you really believe the Gospel is for everyone? I think we have to keep a close watch on ourselves, because the media (and I’m talking conservative media) will lead us to think that some people aren’t worthy of the Gospel. Sometimes we (I’m guilty of this too!) tend to think that because someone is a Conservative Republican their every word and action are going to be Christian. But, that’s not always true! I’ve heard some call terrorists the most evil group of people on the face of the earth. Do you believe that? Aren’t we all born with a sinful nature that makes it easy for us to choose evil and be selfish? Labeling others as the most evil people on the face of the earth can change our view of them.
I just think we need to be careful with how we think of others. If not, we may end up like the Jews persecuting Paul, hands over ears and screaming, “I don’t want to hear it!” Maybe we need to read John 3:16 again to grasp who it is God loves.
- Your thoughts?
- How do you view and think of people outside our country?
- How should a Christian view others?