The Green-eyed Monster
Everlasting God, sometimes I feel torn between where I’ve been and where I’m going. Show me the way, I pray.
Read Acts 13:26-52
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“There are three conflicting responses to the fact of Christ. The answer of hostility, the answer of indifference, and the answer of commitment” (James S. Stewart).
Paul brings the story up to date as he tells of Jesus and the response both of his contemporaries and God himself (26-41). It is the story of opposition that can never derail God’s plans: “yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets” (27). God is in control, in spite of the efforts of those who read of his plans Sabbath by Sabbath. Faced with a kangaroo court and rigged execution, God still raises Jesus to be the King who brings forgiveness from our sins (38,39).
“I’ve ignored this for so long,” the man told me as the saving good news of Jesus finally dawned on him. “Will the offer still stand?” he asked. This is a Savior given for those who ignored him! “How can I be forgiven? I am guilty of so much,” he continued. “Everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses” (39). What a massively reassuring truth justification by faith is. How tragic that we so often allow ourselves to think of the gospel as good news for good people instead.
What was true in bringing the gospel into being is repeated as Paul brings its message to those in Antioch (42-52). There is a welcome and a hunger for the “grace of God” (43) and the “word of the Lord” (44). But there is also jealousy, the green-eyed monster, bringing abuse, rejection and persecution. These two responses are normal in gospel history. Our ideas of discipleship and even what it looks like to be “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (52) need to take both into account. It is worth taking some time to recalibrate our expectations in the light of this.
Reflect on how the Gospel has really been “good news” to you. What difference has it made that you are justified by faith through God’s grace, not works?
God, give me a wonder at Your grace and a hunger for Your Word. I’m so grateful for the good news of the Gospel.
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