Saturday, September 10, 2011

Paul Preaches to the Gentiles

Today I read Acts 13 where Saul is first called Paul and he preaches to the people of Antioch. As I was reading I had a thought. Paul is preaching to the people and rehearsing unto them their history, ancient and modern. He talks about John the Baptist and how John denied being the Christ. I got to thinking about it and it is very strange to me that John would be thought of as the Messiah. He was teaching different doctrine but doing no miracles that are recorded and made no mention of throwing off oppressors or any other militant comments and yet people thought he was the promised Messiah.

However, when Jesus comes along, performing miracles and teaching the same doctrine, He is rejected. It seems very odd to me. Satan was definitely working on the people of Israel getting them to reject the Savior. I wonder if the Jews were looking for the promised Messiah so strongly at that time because they were in bondage to Rome or they felt the time was near? Or perhaps anytime they were in bondage they would look for the Messiah, I'm not really sure and the scriptures aren't clear on the matter.

The rest of the chapter is about Paul and Barnabas' teachings in the city of Antioch. I find it quite amusing how the Gentiles of the city desire to hear the message and so Paul tells them to assemble next week and he will preach to them. When they do so, the Jews of the city harass Paul and Barnabas and say they blaspheme by preaching to the Gentiles. I love Paul's response, it shows he is a blunt man and has no problem telling it like it is. He tells the Jews that it was necessary that the word be preached unto the Jews first, but since they have rejected it and they judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life, God has seen fit to command them to preach the word to the Gentiles. I can only imagine what an uproar that statement caused!

But Paul has a point. What do the Jews care if the Gentiles hear the message that they just rejected? Is it because it concerns their history that they are so sensitive about it? They don't believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so why do they care if Paul and Barnabas teach the Gentiles the message that they just rejected? All I can think of is that perhaps Satan put it into their heads to try and thwart the message at all costs. Because truthfully if someone offers you something and you say no to it, what do you care if it is offered to someone else? You didn't want it.

It is always interesting to see how people react to hearing the Gospel. Some react with gladness, some with indifference, and some with hostility. In this day and age we are lucky that all the media coverage and people trying to stir up hostility towards the Latter-day Saints have succeeded in only making people curious about it and wanting to seek it out. So in a sense, Satan's efforts in that regard are actually helping the church move forward. And of course the absolute best missionary tool that we have is ourselves and how we live our lives. People notice that we are different even if we don't advertise it. The people at my work noticed how different I was just by the simple fact that I never swear or use foul language. If you are a good Latter-day Saint who lives the commandments as they should, you will stand out in a good way and draw people to you and by so doing you can assist God in moving the work forward. And when we are questioned about it, we need to make sure we are boldly declaring the truth and fulfilling our baptismal covenant. We need to be bold like Paul was and not fear what others will say or do to us. And as always the Lord is willing and ready to help us, we just have to ask. Until tomorrow.

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