Acts 22:22 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!”
Paul was telling his story and everyone listened intently. He shares the story of how Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus, how he was blinded, how God sent Ananias, how he received back his sight. All of this, though tough to believe, is received and listened to. However the second he says that Jesus tells him to preach to the gentiles, everyone freaks out. Their hatred of a different race had blinded them. They were willing to accept that Jesus spoke to him, even though they all believed Jesus was still dead. But when the content of what Jesus said to Paul did not jive with their understanding of what was acceptable based on their religious and social prejudice they were outraged. So much to the fact that they were willing to kill Paul because he valued the Gentiles and preached a message that God valued them as well. Racism and hatred are dark, dark things.
Racism and religious prejudice are very dark things. I wish this was an ancient problem solved by generations of the gospel message permeating culture but it is not. It is a real problem. Unfortunately it is still not only a problem in our world but also even within the church. So as a church leader what am I to do?
– Trust that God loves and values all people. Even if they speak different languages, have different color skin and have a past history of worshipping other gods.
– Keep my door open. If the blood of Christ was poured out for all mankind, then my door should be open to all mankind. If His grace is offered to them, so should my door and my life.
– Don’t fear different. Racism and prejudice are created and fueled by fear. Perfect love cast out all fear. I must learn to operate in faith, not fear.
– Realize not everyone, including religious people, will understand or agree with an open door policy in ministry. That’s ok, the first century leaders didn’t understand Paul’s calling. However that didn’t delegitimize it.
Father help me live a life and lead a church that fights against racism and prejudice. May I never close a door to people that your blood made a way for. Give me boldness to love more and lay aside preference and prejudice.