In today’s reading, we have two very different groups of people. As Paul and Barnabas are teaching, the focus is shifting to the Gentiles and away from the Jews. As we read this story, we can picture a mass of people, “the whole city”,gathered. There are opposing forces. The Gentiles are grasping the word of God. They are believing what Paul and Barnabas are saying. They are “coming alive”. They are joyful. You can hear them cheering and rallying. They are believing in eternal life. They are hearing “these things”. I interpret “these things” to be the word of God and his teachings. Paul and Barnabas are preaching, teaching and spreading God’s word. They are true disciples for the Gentiles and are showing them the way. What a wonderful scene we can envision in this story.
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
On the other side, we have the Jews. They are starting to oppose the word. They are turning away from Paul and Barnabas. The word “scoff” is used to describe their actions toward the Gentiles. We read about the Jews’ “jealousy”. They are definitely struggling and may not know where to turn. They are not cheering and are rallying against God’s word. They are misinterpreting “these things” to represent what they want to become. How sad to see them turn away. Why do they feel they cannot follow? How did they become so filled with this jealousy? God does not want them to turn away.
As we view these contrasting styles of what I will call “group think”, it appears easy to me to sway with the Gentiles. However, in the moment, it may not have been that easy. The Gentiles were certainly on a upward path and staying true to God’s word and course. Do we do that in our every day lives? Or do we turn away, being filled with jealousy? The next time you are confronted with a situation of contrasting styles, which group will you follow? Or will you be the leader and stick with your beliefs, morals and values?
As you carry on your day, may you be filled with the positive feeling of the Gentiles. Don’t let negative feelings take you away from God’s word!