Lights – camera – action!
Scene 1 – Sunday Times Headline:
“Paul – an upstanding man of God, a Jew, a Pharisee (strict law-keeper), a Roman citizen by birth, speaking the people’s language and a vehement persecutor (to the point of prison and death) of those who follow Jesus – arrested by local government. Talks to local crowd – tells his story.”
Scene 2 – “A Man on a Mission”
Allegedly – on the way to deliver official documents to authorize more prejudice and death, Paul describes his journey – using language such as – ‘The Divine encounter’ – ‘blinded by Jesus’ light, ears filled with Jesus’ voice and instruction’ – ‘ life changed forever as he followed instructions’, ‘waiting for a visit from a devout Jew who had also encountered Jesus’. Continuing in this vein – ‘Salvation!’, ‘Prejudice smashed and Mission changed!’
“Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!” (vs 21). Now, claiming as one who used to hate Jesus followers, to making claims that the Gentiles can know God. Does this man have any pride in what he was born into? The Jews are demanding answers…
Scene 3 – “Explosion!”
v22 “The crowd listened until he said that word. (GENTILES) Then they all began to shout, “Away with such a fellow! He isn’t fit to live!” They yelled, threw of their coats, tossed handfuls of dust into the air.”
Pride and prejudice fuse – and erupt! The ‘upstanding men of God’ are offended!
This made me think – what prejudice do we carry in our hearts?
What “religious talk” do we use to justify it? Subtle innuendos, making people feel less than us, allowing our pride to blur the lines of honouring the “least” – the gardener you always walk past, employees and colleagues who are not on your “pay-grade”, the person with a different language, culture, skin, social status and even religion. Or maybe in your own family, your marriage, your friends – trying to prove your point at all costs.
Let us not kid ourselves, we all have pride and prejudice
buried in the recesses of our hearts in some shape or form.
Scene 4 – What can we learn from chapter 22?
When we testify to encountering Christ and our perspectives are changed, not everyone – including those who you expect to understand – will jump up and down and agree with us. We may experience persecution and prejudice from the ones who have shouted the loudest as our previous “fans” or friends.
Let the words of Christ ring in our ears – over our pride and prejudice – and we can be catalysts of change – no matter what the cost! Matt 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done…”
Application: Ask Jesus to give you courage to look deep inside and recognise areas where you have had pride and prejudice. Ask Him to help you daily recognise these areas and give you courage and His grace to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind ..”Rom 12:2-3
-Darleen van Tonder-