Gentile - The Lasting Impact of Obedience

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 2, 2012 0 comments

One of the things that I think is true about every human being and the flesh is its desire for glory in this world. If we are honest with ourselves, we want to be affirmed, recognized, noticed for our accomplishments. We hate it when we work hard and give of our time and energy only to see somebody else reap the reward. I'd say this is especially true for men. We feel we are nothing if we don't have the respect of our parents, women, other men, and society in general. When we really begin to understand how God works, however, we should see that all of our attempts at self-glorification are futile. We can never be satisfied enough, and as Paul says in Ephesians 4:19, we have "a continual lust for more". If you've ever gotten to that place where you feel respected and generally glorified by others, you know that satisfaction is the furthest thing from you. Instead, what you get is fear, insecurity, and added pressure.

The attempts at self-glorification are futile because, if we look back at the history of the Bible and at our nation's history, anyone who has ever done anything that made a significant positive impact in the world neither saw in advance completely how God would use them nor lived long enough to see the full results. I was struck by these thoughts one day last week when I was reading an article in the local newspaper about the group of guys who got together in an auto shop that was owned by one of them in the early 1920s in Ohio and laid the initial plans for the National Football League. Could they have ever imagined that it would be as popular as it is today, less than 100 years later? That got me thinking about other similar situations. Could Henry Ford or the Wright Brothers have ever imagined what their creations would mean for the transportation industry? Could Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others of the Civil Rights Movement have known where we would be today as a diverse and mostly tolerant nation? Could Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who was portrayed by Jeff Daniels in the movie "Gettysburg", who voluntarily left his family and a job as a college professor with a PhD., and who led about 300 Union troops against 1,000 Confederate troops in the battle to defend Little Round Top, have known the true fruits of the sacrifices made by he and his men? The answer to all of these questions is simply "no". These people may have had visions of what the future "could" be like, but they had no guarantee of anything. They simply either followed God by faith or, even if they had no relationship with Him, used their God-given talents to do what He created them to do!

At this point, you're wondering what this has to do with our word of the week. Well, I don't know if there is anyone in all of history who more represents what I've been talking about so far than the Apostle Paul. In Acts 9, we read about his conversion (he was previously known as Saul) and the purpose for his life going forward. But interestingly, WE read about it, and Ananias was told about it in a vision, but we don't read anywhere that Paul himself was ever told about it! Ananias questions why he should be so crazy as to go to the home of the man who has been persecuting Christians, and God answers him with a little glimpse into His future plans for Paul. "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:15-16). Wow! Those are 2 of my favorite verses in the Bible. Before Paul had even accepted the invitation to be a Christ-follower rather than a Christ-persecutor, God already knew how He was going to use him once he surrenders. Could we be foolish enough to think God doesn't care equally for us, and have plans that are just as big for us?

God calls Paul "my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel". So, simply put, Paul was going to be God's instrument to carry His name to EVERYONE. But I certainly find it interesting that "Gentiles and their kings" were mentioned first, mainly because I don't think anything in the Bible is coincidental. While Paul was a Jew himself and certainly preached Christ to his fellow Jews and Jewish authorities, taking Christ to the Gentile nations wound up being his passion and mission. One chapter later in Acts 10, we read the story of how God opens Peter's eyes to His love and salvation being equally available to Gentiles, and then the rest of the book of Acts, and some may even say the whole New Testament, are the story of Peter and Paul taking the gospel message to the Gentiles.

As Katie pointed out in Monday's blog, you and I (unless you are of Jewish descent) are Gentiles. Were it not for Paul and Peter being used by God and being faithfully obedient, I could not sit here and write this blog. We could not go to Christian churches in America. We probably wouldn't even have a Bible to read from. Many of the spiritual blessings we have grown up with and taken for granted would not have been available to us. In fact, had Paul and Peter not been willing to get out of their comfort zone and go preach to the "pagan" nations, it's probably safe to say Christianity would have died right there in Jerusalem and never even come close to being the world's most popular religion as it is today and has been for a long time. Paul's and Peter's message to the Gentiles is what has enabled Christianity to spread across the globe. And all they were doing was obeying God and doing what He had created and equipped them to do, with absolutely no clue about the extent of the impact their actions would have.

So, they must have been a couple of extraordinary dudes, right? Not a chance! The New Testament is filled with their screw-ups. God loves to restore order and create a masterpiece out of chaos and junk. When you think of the word "Gentile" from here on out, let it be a reminder of how God can take the obedience of mere men, even men who for the longest time resisted His presence in their lives, and use it to impact the whole world for generations and centuries to come. How might He be calling you to obey Him by faith? I encourage you to resist the temptation to worry about the results, because your mind simply cannot comprehend His plans. And besides, the results, and your ETERNAL reward, are best left up to Him anyway.