Thursday, October 25
God’s Kingdom is bigger than our tribes
Scripture: Job 16, Acts 21-23
Acts 22:21-22 “He said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” 22 They listened to him up to this point. Then they raised their voices, shouting, “Wipe this man off the face of the earth! He should not be allowed to live!”
I laughed out loud when I read these verses!
Paul was attacked in Jerusalem by Jews who believed he was undermining their faith, teaching Jews that when they believed in Jesus they no longer needed to follow the Jewish law. Of course, this was untrue—Paul did no such thing. He taught Jews that Jesus was their Messiah; he taught Gentiles that they didn’t need to keep the Jewish law to be saved because Jesus was enough. But this distinction was missed or ignored by the angry mob. Sounds like much of the political and social anger in our culture—mob-like anger that is blind to nuance, sometimes blind to simple facts.
Paul speaks to the crowd, and they listen until this final sentence: God told him, “Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” Just the mention of Gentiles, and the notion that God would care for them, whips the crowd into a frenzied fury.
This is another example of the deep animosity that existed between Jews and Gentiles at that time.
Tribal hatred (whether the tribe is race, religion, church, denomination, politics, an issue, etc.) is nothing new. It’s been around forever, and it’s irrational and dangerous. And it has no place in the heart of God’s people.
What is new is the love of Jesus! Jesus transformed the heart of Saul/Paul and turned this Jewish terrorist into the apostle to the Gentiles! Jesus saved this rabid Jewish nationalist, gave him a heart for God and for the world, and sent him to the very people he had always despised!
Move toward the other! It’s what God did to us in Christ. It’s what Paul did in his worldwide mission. It’s what God calls each of us to do. Build bridges, not walls. Love the other. Be part of God’s Kingdom that includes “people from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)
God’s Kingdom is bigger than our tribes!
Prayer: Lord, what a striking reminder that You love the whole world, and that we are prone to love only our tribe. Forgive us, and help us as Christians to have Your heart for the whole world, to love everyone always, to build bridges not walls, to build Your Kingdom and not just our small tribes.