Monday, February 15
Who is your “them”?
Scripture: Leviticus 1-2, Acts 21
Acts 22:21–22 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
The Roman soldier who rescued Paul allowed him to address the Jewish mob that wanted to kill him. The crowd listened as Paul told his story of growing up a devout Jew, trained as a rabbi, his persecution of “the Way” (the Jesus movement), his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and his return to Jerusalem.
But then…they erupted! They wanted to kill him again, and began shouting and flinging their coats and dust in the air. What happened? It was the final thing Paul said: the Lord sent him to the Gentiles.
The Jews considered themselves to be God’s chosen people, and as much as possible avoided contact and interaction with Gentiles. The idea that the Lord would send a Jew like Paul with good news to the Gentiles was unthinkable; it was outrageous and re-ignited the murderous mob.
Jew vs. Gentile. Us vs. them. That spirit is very much alive. Who is your “them”? Who are the people you despise, reject, look down upon, dislike and avoid?
I read this story and reacted to their open unvarnished prejudice. “That’s terrible,” I think. Then I wonder about who my Gentiles are. I have them. There are people that I don’t get. And I judge. And I avoid.
God sent Jesus for those people too. And like Paul, the Lord sends me to them with the good news of God’s love.
Move toward the other. I say it all the time. But in reality, it’s hard to do. It’s hard to overcome my prejudices. Help me Lord!
Prayer: I admit that there are still people I find difficult to love and I’d rather avoid. Help me move toward the other with the good news of Your love.