When Jesus appeared to Paul on the Road to Damascus, the Lord began to outline to the future apostle what his ministry would look like. Jesus said:
I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them.(Acts 26:17, NIV)
This is such an interesting statement to me. First, if I were Paul, I might have said “No, thanks. Who wants a job that requires constant rescuing?”
Secondly, the last statement makes sense to me. Jews, even highly educated like Paul, would be challenged to cross-culturally reach Gentiles…so I can see that he would need a lot of divine help.
But it is the middle statement – that Paul would need rescue from his own people – that is so vexing. With the same vengeance Paul persecuted the church, so the Jewish leadership would turn on him. And Paul knew how rough that could get. God promised to take care of the Apostle.
The challenging part of this statement is that this principle seems to still be in play. Christians need rescue from the world, of course. But more often than not we need rescue from other Christians! We hear that Christians “shoot their wounded” and “eat their babies.” Yikes. But is it true?
Sometimes it is. It could be as common as someone in the church who gets mad and creates strife. It might be someone with a name and a theological axe to grind writing books and speaking in conferences against other Christians. Or the newest form, the blogosphere, where you can write about the “seven worst churches/pastors/books/theological positions/whatever” and send it to the world before you ever get out of your pajamas and finish your morning coffee.
Lord, rescue us from our own people!
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21, NIV)
Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God… (1 Peter 2:17, NLT)