The people in Jerusalem listening that day to Paul connected with him until he told them about the commission he had received from Jesus: to go to the Gentiles and share the Good News of Christ’s love with them. This is when they went from listening intently to wanting him dead.
And that is when the thought hit me, “Who are my Gentiles?” Who are the people groups (that when someone tells me God is sending them to this group to share the Good News) that cause me to want to walk away from the one being sent? I want to get rid of the person who wants to go. Maybe I don’t call for their death, but I wish that somehow they would be stopped from going.
As we have traveled around and shared about the mission that Christ has called us to we have found a great reception from the people listening. Most are enthusiastic and supportive as they hear about our being called to plant churches among the “University District Villages” of America. They are excited and many have become a part of our Support Team helping us to carry out the mission.
But there are others in the crowd whose tone of voice and facial expressions tell us a different story. There is no joy in their voice. There are no smiles. Foreheads strained and wrinkled, voices tight and guarded; they struggle with the thought of who lives in these villages. Their minds race with images of people that they are not sure they want to see in heaven one day. And while they are careful to not call for our demise, they are quick to exit the conversation and get away from us.
Going through this experience in the last several months caused me to pause in reading the scriptures … a text I had read many times before became real in such a different way. Passing over it I never saw the personal connection it held or understood the reason it was really there. It prodded me as I couldn’t get past it, a Holy Spirit pause that forced me to look inside my soul and see who the “Gentiles” might be in my life.
Who are the people (when I see them in public) I shy away from and even feel animosity for? Who are the ones I find myself thinking, “they got what they deserved” when I hear of a tragedy that came their way? What group of people do I secretly hope are unable to escape the hell I think they deserve?
It could be the people of Islam who stir such a thought. Maybe it’s the educated, or for that matter, the uneducated. What about gays? Homophobes? Religious or non-religious? Conservatives or liberals? Abusive people? Christians, or at the least, certain types of Christians? Wealthy? Poor? It could be white, black, red, yellow, or brown people. On and on goes the list of those we secretly don’t want to hear the gospel.
And then I am reminded of some important truths of God. I am reminded that God loves the world and gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved. My mind races to the text where it says we all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. I am flooded, like the room with the morning sun, with the purpose Jesus gave us all: to make disciples of all people, no exclusions.
Then I find myself in a place where I either have to resist God or fall on my knees in repentance before Him. The cool morning breeze of the Holy Spirit flows through my soul and leads me in a search of my heart to see who my “Gentiles” might be. Today, might I suggest, that you join me and begin to search your heart for the “Gentiles” of your life. And when God reveals them to you, pause, repent, and then ask Christ to give you love for them. Watch as His light floods your soul and the breeze of His Spirit flows through you. You will be amazed at the change in you and just what He might call you to do next!
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author at the time of writing. They do not reflect in any way those of the organizations to which they belong to or affiliated with.