Scripture Reading—Acts 23:12-35
This passage is full of drama. Forty men conspire to kill Paul. They want him dead so badly that they go to the Sanhedrin and ask them to request that the Roman commander have Paul brought back before the Jewish leaders for questioning. Their intention, however, is to kill him as he is transported from one place to another. Paul’s nephew comes to his aid, reports the plot to the Roman authorities, Paul is spared—at least momentarily. He’s shipped off to Caesarea for a hearing before Governor Felix. All these events remind us that in spite of intense opposition, death plots, and court proceedings, the gospel will be proclaimed. Indeed, Paul’s faith is so strong that he uses his imprisonment as an opportunity to proclaim the truth to leaders of the Roman Empire. His conviction and tenacity makes our excuses about the obstacles we face in sharing the gospel look rather lame! But there’s more here. How do we explain the intense hatred for Paul? Why is it Paul’s own kindred will not even listen to him? The flat out rejection of Paul’s message, like the rejection of Jesus’ message, reminds us how prone we are to see things the way we’ve always seen them. It is much harder than we want to admit for any of us to change our minds about anything—how human beings come into existence, whether the world is flat, or whether it revolves around the sun or vice-versa. We have a hard time thinking that God’s love includes people we’ve been taught to exclude. It took a dramatic intervention by the risen Christ for Paul to change his thinking. At the very least, perhaps we can learn that it’s not always a bad thing to hold our most cherished convictions with humility. Perhaps God has much more in store for us to learn than we’ve yet recognized.
Thought for the day: Holding onto our convictions with humility allows God to reveal new truths to us about God’s purposes and the scope of God’s love and mercy.
Prayer: O God, thank you for strong beliefs that give shape to the direction of my life. Free me from every trace of arrogance that makes me think that I have it all figured out. Help me to be open to the new things you have yet to teach me about myself, other people, and your creation. Amen.