Sunday, September 06, 2015

This week's lesson (September 5-11): Paul - background and call

It's not easy to be a bridge.

Take Paul, for instance -- someone who reached both Jews and Gentiles . . .

But was often viewed with suspicion by both.
  • To the Gentiles of Ephesus, for instance, he was just too Jewish -- a man whose monotheism threatened their income from the Temple of Diana.
  • Then again, the Jews of Jerusalem thought he was just too friendly with Gentiles -- so much so, they thought he'd smuggled one into the Temple!
  •  And even the church's leaders weren't always sure what to make of Paul! Having accepted his offering from the Gentiles, for instance, they then told him to go through purification rituals at the Temple, so that "everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law" (Acts 21:24, NIV).
Likewise, the church needs people who can build a bridge between two cultures -- between faith and science, between East and West, between tradition post-modernism . . .
Yet it's not always comfortable with the people who can do this.
  • Like Paul, they don't seem to fit in either camp.
  • Like Paul, they don't seem entirely loyal to either camp.
  • And like Paul, they may face rejection by both camps -- rejection, or repeated tests of their allegiance.
We need people like Paul, in other words -- but we don't always make it easy for them to be like Paul.
No, there are times when being a bridge . . .
It's quite a stretch. 

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