“Word for Today” – Acts 22 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

October 20, 2009 at 4:45 am 1 comment

Cable News 1I am a news junkie.  CNN, MSNBC, Fox News – I watch them all.  In my truck, I can often be found listening to WOAI, San Antonio’s news-talk radio station.  My wife Melody, however, does not share in my affinity for the talking heads of television and radio news.  For instance, we’ll be riding in my truck, and I’ll be hanging on every word doled out by some radio commentator.  After several minutes of begrudgingly enduring what are usually nothing more than pearls of polemics, Melody’s patience will run out.  “This is so boring!” she will exclaim, and then proceed to change the radio to a music station.  Melody can listen to the news up to a point.  But when that said point arrives, she moves me on to listening to other things.

In our reading for today from Acts 22, Paul speaks to an enraged Jewish mob, eager to condemn him to prison for fraternizing too closely with Gentiles (cf. Acts 21:29-36).  In response to this charge, Paul defends himself:  “I am a Jews, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city.  Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as many of your are today” (verse 3).  Paul continues by recounting how he encountered Jesus of Nazareth as he was riding a road to Damascus, and how Christ commissioned him:  “Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles” (verse 21).

The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, ‘Rid the earth of him!  He’s not fit to live” (verse 22)!  The crowd, it seems, was fine with Paul’s speech until he spoke of God’s gospel being carried to the Gentiles.  For portraying their God as the God of the Gentiles was more than they could stomach.  They demand Paul’s life in repayment for his grossly offensive statement.

I appreciate the ESV translation of the beginning of verse 22 as it comports more closely to the Greek text:  “Up to this word they listened to Paul.” Up to this word concerning God’s will for the Gentiles, they were willing to give Paul a hearing.  But then Paul went a word too far.  And they could not receive it.  They could not believe it.  They could only go up to a certain word.

I wonder how often we do the same thing with God’s Word even today.  We will listen to his Word up to this word or that word, but sometimes, God seems to go a word too far.  And, like my wife, we move to change the channel.  We move to turn the radio dial – not out of boredom at talking heads, but out of fury at the proclamations of the Almighty.  Like when God gives us guidance concerning our sexual ethics.  Or when he prompts us to be generous with our money toward his work in the world.  Or when he encourages us to be selfless even when we feel like selfishly taking time for ourselves.  Sure, we have our excuses – our minimizations, rationalizations, and justifications.  But in reality, we simply don’t care to listen to God’s Word – at least not all of it.  We, with the Jewish mob, are willing to listen and obey only up to this word.

In the twilight of the exodus, Moses reminds the Israelites:  “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).  Did you catch the adjective?  It’s not just some of the words, or even most of the words that are our life, it’s every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.  We are to listen, ponder, and take seriously and responsibly every word of God.

So, is there an area in your life in which you are only listening to God up to this word or that word?  If so, will you take him at his every word?  Remember the promise of Moses:  God’s Word is not here to oppress, suppress, repress us.  It is here to give us life.  In other words, these are words that we not only live by, these are words that we live on.  For these words are the very words of eternal life.  I hope you listen to them.  I hope you believe them.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Acts 21 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 23 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. h1jen1  |  October 20, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Very well put. I read every single word. I never read every word of a blog. That was very well put. It’s hard in this world today where there is so much pressure to indulge in things that are not in God’s favor. So lots of us (me) have lots of bad habits that keep us from even coming to church. But it’s a good breakdown and analogy of the bible, such as your blog that gives God hope that people like me are one step closer to him for the time being.
    Thank you for your blog.


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