Starting With His Own

July 24, 2021

Acts 28.17-22           

1Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”

As we come to the end of the book of Acts we see this arrival in Rome.  Growing up I heard that the reason Paul was in Rome was so that the authorities in Rome would have a chance to hear the gospel and be changed by it.  But as I have gone over these last portions of Acts over these last weeks it seems that it has little to do with that and more to do with Paul preaching the gospel with different groups of people within Rome.

Here we see the Jewish leaders come to Paul.  He begins to explain the predicament he is in, but wants to show them that he is not against the Jews and their faith.  He is working from it.  And the Jewish leaders are interested in hearing what Paul has to say.  People are talking against the Christians everywhere.  And that is why they want to know what Paul is saying.  Not taking the word of gossip and hearsay.

They want understanding.  Monday we can see the way they will respond, but not before they hear Paul out and see what he is truly saying.  A lost talent in many places.  We no longer listen to what others are saying and let ehm tell us what they know or what they believe.  We have relied on the worst form of gossip – Twitter feeds, internet based conspiracies, poorly thought out rants that claim to have research, but are little more than opinions that support people’s fears.

If only we could return to the way of speaking with the one we need to.  Finding out their actual thoughts, and even hearing why they think that way.  Having conversation that truly hears and isn’t just a pause while we think of what we are going to say next.  We have gotten to be a people with our minds made up about everything and we have no room for change and disagreement.

Hold fast to the things that matter.  Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of the World.  Salvation by grace through faith.  Hold loosely to the things that are not as important.  Names on signs, styles of worship, preferences for how we gather and how we serve.  Love people enough to keep with those who believe differently on things, and who sin differently, yet need the same grace we do.  Listen to others, Love others, Live with others even as we do so in our own unique and flawed ways.

SongWe Are One

Prayer

God of Jesus Christ, give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ, so that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened. Help us to know the hope to which you have called us, the riches of the glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of your power at work in us.  Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

—based on Ephesians 1:17-19, NRSV

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