Bible Reading Day 202

by markburlinson

Day 202: July 21 (Acts 21:15-40)

Good morning!

After leaving Caesarea, Paul and his companions arrive in Jerusalem, and go immediately to meet with James (leader of the church in Jerusalem) and all the elders of that church. Clearly Paul is welcomed as a brother and friend. But he is also a controversial figure, having switched from being a rabid defender of Jewish religion to the foremost Christian evangelist of the Gentiles.

The leaders in Jerusalem are aware of how many Jews have become believers, and that salvation has made them “more Jewish” in that it fulfils and completes their original calling as God’s first chosen people. Since Paul is a Jew, the leaders in Jerusalem have a suggestion for him that they think will demonstrate that Paul is not rejecting the Jews in his outreach to the Gentiles. Paul agrees to the plan, and the Jerusalem elders reaffirm that their earlier instructions for the Gentiles still apply; they are not adding to those.

See how freeing Christian faith is; these men have different backgrounds, different spiritual practices, different experiences, yet they are content to let love unite them and are careful not to let differences divide them. What a testimony to the power of God in all their lives.

However, along comes religion and causes division, violence, and uproar. Jews from Asia basically start a riot based on their presumptions about Paul and his companions. And the whole city is drawn in. The fox gets into the henhouse and Paul is back to being a divisive figure through no fault of his own!

The Roman authorities have to step in, and Paul asks the Roman commander for permission to address the mob. Even in extremity, Paul’s motivation is to declare God’s truth, grace and love!

For you and I, the circumstances are not likely to be that extreme. We are blessed in our nation to not be actively vilified for our faith. But would we have the courage to speak up for God in the face of violent opposition? That kind of courage only comes from God, so let’s lean into Him today!

Have a great day!

Mark.

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