Google+ 01/23/14 Let's Shake the Dust From Our Feet, Now!

Acts 13:48-52

 

When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message;

And all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.

So the Lord’s message spread throughout that region.

Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city,

And they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town.

So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.

And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

 

In part four of our six-part devotion series entitled, "Acts of Joy For Jesus!" Luke relays an all-too-familar scenario regarding the Jews and the Gentiles.  Paul and Barnabas have been commissioned by the church to go preach the Good News.  Off they go and they meet with great success in speaking to the Gentiles.  In our Scripture today, we see that almost the entire town shows up to hear them preach.  Many are converted and they were glad and thanked the Lord for the message.  Because of these efforts, God's message spread throughout the region.  So far, so good.  Then the Jews get involved!  They go to the religious women and leaders of the city and incite a mob against Paul and Barnabas.  They literally ran them out of town.  How can that be?  Didn't Jesus tell us to go and preach the gospel to all the world?  Weren't Paul and Barnabas doing exactly what God and the church told them to do?  Of course they were!  Unfortunately, the Jews were doing exactly what most churches and pastors do today.  They were declaring that there was too much Jesus!  When we completely dedicate our lives to God, things change.  The love of material possessions and money quickly disappears.  Worldly activities get replaced by fellowship, prayer, and worship.  Fiction reading is replaced by time in the Holy Scripture.  All myths about Christianity are put to rest and God's purpose for each of us begins to take shape.  Fear, envy, jealousy, and anger eventually disappear.  That means that churches and pastors, who thrive on controlling who is in their congregations, cease to have any power.  I often tell my congregation that what I have to say means absolutely nothing unless it comes directly from God's Word.  For me, that is extremely rewarding and liberating because God is in complete control of our church.  For people with other agendas, it is a great threat.  Ask yourself how many times we have agonized over the Gentiles rather than the Jews.  Most often the problems in Christianity are created by those inside the "Christian" circle!  So what are we to do?  Let's do what Paul and Barnabas did.  Let's be filled with joy as we leave the "inner circle" and move on to the next fertile ground where the Gentiles live.  "Let's Shake the Dust From Our Feet, Now!"