My morning reading took me to Acts 22. Paul is explaining his ministry to the people of Jerusalem. He explained how Christ had called him out of a life of persecution and into a life of apostleship.
In verse 21, he quotes the call of Jesus, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” And in verse 22 it says, “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!'”
They listened to his history of Jewish training. They listened to his record of persecuting the church. They listened to his confrontation by the risen Christ. But they couldn’t stand that he had been given a message for people they hated and despised.
Sometimes we Christians follow in the same pattern. We like the grace of God when we think its for us or our friends! But when we realize it includes people we don’t like, don’t understand, or downright offend us… we want to stop it. Not you? What if they sat next to you next Sunday, or worse, in your chair? Oh yes, we’re not much different.
The gospel is a message of grace for those who make us most uncomfortable. It may be someone who is living an immoral lifestyle, or someone of a different race, class or culture; it may be someone who is committed to another religion; but the message is for them.
That’s who Paul went to. And it almost cost him his life in Acts 22. What are we willing to sacrifice to reach the “gentile” of our day and age? I’m challenged to keep my eyes and heart open for those who are on the outside and need to be included in the message of grace. After all, that is who I am. And that is why Jesus came.