Daily Office Readings for Thursday Proper 11 of Year 1
“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us.” (Acts 15:7 – 9)
I find chapter 15 of Acts very interesting. We have Peter who stands up to talk but in the verse following our reading for today we have for verse 12 “The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles.” This is a switch that goes unexplained. It also struggles with Galatians chapter 2.
Both Peter and Paul have this tension about the “It was I who God chose to take the message to the Gentiles.” I find Ironic humor in that our Church assigned them the same day for their commemoration which is June 29. They both may still be quarreling over that in heaven.
I have met some wonderful people in my life time. Many of these people changed my life, some in ways they will probably never know. They brought God in Christ to me. I saw Jesus in them. They may not even know it.
It seems Peter and Paul got hung up on “who” God chose rather than the importance of the Gentiles getting the word. They got hung up on the “It was I” part. God just wanted the job to be done so that the Gentiles, or nations – the ones that didn’t know Jesus, were informed about Jesus. It was not as important as to how the word got to them, but, that it did. It is the Word that is life changing, not the messenger.
This is still our job today. It is about being in a room and witnessing about how God in creation loves all of us and all creatures. I saw a man two nights ago that I do not agree with (on many levels). But something came over me that said love him anyway. He is who he is right now. He (or I) may not get any better. But he needs people to care about him. I can’t explain this compassion that just happened to me. But it made me see this man in a new way. I may never be recognized as the life changer, but that’s ok. The message of compassion was delivered.
Also, because of my fear of snakes I was one of those people who fully embraced the term, “the only good snake is a dead snake.” But God placed two messengers in my presence at two different times, who may not even know each other, that changed me. One just said, “Don’t kill snakes.” It was spoken with authority. The other rescued a copperhead with a tree branch an flung it back into the woods and remarked “it didn’t deserve to die.” These two messengers gave me new perspective about God’s creatures. Neither of these saints were about themselves. They were about living out who God made them to be and I hope to be like them too. Peter said, “And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us.”
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to (and through) God’s people. John+