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Loving the People We Love to Hate

Loving the People we Love to Hate
Words of Faith 7-27-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 22
[21] "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
[22] 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!"
[23] As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, [24] the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.

The crowd of Jews listened to Paul intently for a long time. They listened as he described his experiences with the Lord. They listened without objection as Paul described hearing from the Lord on the Damascus road. They listened without question as Paul described “the Lord” and Jesus of Nazareth as one in the same! They listened intently as Paul described his period of blindness and recovery of sight through Ananias. They listened peacefully as Paul described how the Lord warned him not to go to Jerusalem. Then, suddenly, as is sometimes said, all hell broke loose.
What was it that caused a near riot? Look carefully. It was not the “blasphemy” of saying that Jesus is the Lord. It was not the claim of hearing from God directly. It was Paul’s claim that the Lord had sent him to the Gentiles! The crowd listened to Paul until he said this and then they called for his head.
We tend to think that the religionists of Jerusalem were upset about Jesus. We think that they were offended most by the idea of Jesus being God, but this was not the case. The huge “offense” to these religious people was really a matter of simple prejudice, good old-fashioned bigotry. The idea that God would send a trained Jew such as Paul to minister to Gentiles was simply abhorrent, even if that mission was in a faraway place!
The truth is that much of what we humans object to on “religious grounds” is often simple prejudice. There are churches in America where one can preach every bit of the radical message of Jesus as long as one does not suggest that people of different races should gather together in His name. Do so and all hell is likely to break loose.
There are churches where the Gospel is warmly received up until the point that it is suggested that the Gospel calls us to care about people who are different from us-- whether Moslems, punk-rockers, gays or pierced head-bangers. Then a solemn religious glaze may set in.
At the bottom line, suggest that God loves the people we love to hate and the crowd will likely turn on you even if quietly.
Religious rebellion can be fairly sophisticated. Religious people often cloak prejudice in hallowed tones. There may be lofty theological arguments to divert attention or an appeal to practicality. There may be a reminder that “missions begin at home”. (Where exactly is that in the Bible, anyway?)
Some who are less polished will note something about “birds of a feather”.
There may even be a polite nod from leaders that in fact signifies absolute non-response. Why is this? The truth is that most of our “problem” and “concern” with really reaching “the world” is not theological at all. It has to do with our comfort zones and cultural prejudices. A heart problem that Jesus came to overcome.
Here is the real deal. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15).” “… Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:18-20).”
Heaven is going to be an extremely diverse place. We will do well to begin getting used to it now.

Lord, forgive me of my hesitance to hear. Forgive me for clinging to my zones of comfort and ease. Forgive me of my prejudices. Open my eyes to Your Kingdom and call. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.