Last week, Paul was told that he would be the one to preach to the Gentiles. This was new for the group, even though Jesus had hinted at it several times during His ministry. Jesus was considered the Jewish Messiah, the one who was to come and save Israel. He taught in the synagogues and in the temple, and celebrated the Jewish feasts, not any of the pagan ones.
This week, Peter is let in on the idea that the Gentiles are part of the plan. (Acts 11:1-18) It only takes a vision. Repeated three times. And a visit from people sent because of an angel's instructions. Oh, and the Holy Spirit descending on a Gentile household. He got it.
I have to say, I love that God works so hard to get us to understand.
The rest of this fourth week of Easter, the readings from Acts reaffirm this understanding that the message and mission of Jesus was not only for the Jewish people, but meant for the whole world.
This week, the church has already been scattered across the world, and Saul (aka Paul - his Roman name) is introduced to the apostles once it is clear that his conversion is real. They send him back out, and he begins his travels, preaching at synagogues. As usual, the response to the message is mixed. The people are starving for more, and the leadership doesn't like it.
Just as Saul's persecution opened the door for the church to spread, so does this stubborn rejection that he keeps receiving. If Paul had been warmly welcomed, there would be no need to go beyond the walls of the synagogue. Instead, the message is pushed out into the world once more.
There are a couple lessons to be learned here. First, obstacles are not necessarily bad things. They could be the very things that get us where we are supposed to go. Second, the leadership should have been the most able to accept the message of Jesus, but they missed it for whatever reason. So can we.
Calling ourselves Christians, being leaders in our community, or even participating in Bible studies doesn't mean that we get it. Each one of us has our blind spots. It is a blessing to discover what they are.
If you dare, ask God to show you your blindspot so He can push you out of your expectations and into His. Let me know how it goes!