Tag Archives: Acts 22

Simply Tell Them Your Story

onceuponatime“Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I now make before you.”
Acts 22:1 (NRSV)

For a couple of chapters the tension has been building. Paul is determined to return to Jerusalem. It has been prophesied that he will be arrested by the Jewish religious leaders as a traitor if he does. Everyone begs him not to go. Paul refuses to be deterred and now, the prophesy has been fulfilled. He finds himself in the middle of a riot. His people are screaming for his blood.

When the Roman guard arrives to break up the riot and discover who the controversy is all about, they nab Paul and take him into custody. But, Paul isn’t ready to be rescued quite yet. He wants to address the crowd and asks the Roman guards for permission. With the Romans present, the mob is a bit less zealous. Paul has a chance to speak.

He tells them his story.

He could have argued law. He could have shown from scripture the prophecies that pointed to Jesus. He could have defended his actions and refuted the accusations made against him. There were a million directions Paul could have gone with his opportunity to speak, but he simply tells them his story.

Our stories are personal. They are intimate and almost always compelling. Some, like Paul’s, are even quite dramatic. Others don’t tend to argue and refute a personal story unless it is full of lies and hyperbole.

This morning I’m reminded that, when given the opportunity, it’s always a good idea to simply tell your story.

Chapter-a-Day Acts 22

Sign for "colored" waiting room at a...
Sign for “colored” waiting room at a Greyhound bus terminal in Rome, Georgia, 1943. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The crowd listened until Paul said [the word “Gentile”]. Then they all began to shout, “Away with such a fellow! He isn’t fit to live!” Acts 22:22 (NLT)

It’s amazing how one racially charged word can incite an entire crowd to violence.

In America we are constantly reminded of the historic racial tensions between whites and blacks that have framed our history and our existence for hundreds of years. As a young person I naively thought that Americans were the only people in the world who had such a struggle. Along the journey I’ve discovered that racism and prejudice run deep and wide in the human experience.

In today’s chapter the Jewish people in Jerusalem showed their prejudice against non-Jews. Of course, the Jewish people know what it means to be shunned and oppressed. Anti-semitism existed then and still exists to this day. When I visited Jerusalem several years ago I was amazed at the racial tensions that continue to exist within the city. The city felt to me like a powder keg of racial and religious tension with a very short fuse.

At the heart of Jesus’ teaching was the truth that God’s Kingdom does not exist for one particular racial, ethnic, or national group, but for all people and nations who will believe and follow. To this end, the two strongest leaders (Peter and Paul) were sent by God to share God’s Message with the non-Jewish Gentiles and begin the process of obliterating the wall of prejudice that stood between the two groups. The book of Acts sets the stage for the emerging historical record. Over the first few hundred years after Jesus’ resurrection, the Message would be boldly carried by believers throughout the known world and shared with any who would listen regardless of race, creed, or nationality.

Today, I’m thankful to serve a God whose Kingdom exists above human limits and weaknesses, and who calls us to ascend out of our Earthbound prejudices to enter in.