The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 had a profound effect. Many people flocked to him, believing in Jesus. The impact on the community was so profound that people wanted to hear Paul more. Not only the Jews heard and believed, but also many others, proselytes and pagan Greeks heard and believed. By the next Sabbath day, the whole city was flocking to hear Paul’s message.
This angered the Jewish authorities. Since they were persuaded that the Messiah was yet to come, they made every effort to stop the work of Paul and Barnabas. Paul recognized this as the rejection of the Gospel, not a personal affront. Because the Jews refused eternal life for themselves, they were being rejected by God.
It seems rare in Western Christianity for people to have such a polarizing effect. Personality may cause loyalty or division. However, it is rarely the central message of the Gospel which brings this division. I can only understand this to say that we are not being clear enough about the Gospel or our culture doesn’t realize how very different salvation by grace is. Maybe we don’t think we need to be rescued from destruction. Maybe we think we can actually make peace with God on our own terms.
Those ideas are foreign to the Bible. May the Lord give us grace to recover the central ideas of the necessity of salvation and the fact that it is only by grace through faith in Christ.
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