Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Acts 11 -- crossing picket lines

The driver was a dork. The chief loader was a charismatic, charming guy who decided he didn't like the driver. "You can teach a chimpanzee to load boxes in 15 minutes," old Spen would say, a big grin on his dark face, "But loading furniture takes real skill." On this night, not much furniture was getting loaded.

And one college boy, with a liberal arts degree that prepared him for low-wage dead-end jobs, had a decision to make. Cooperate with the dorky driver, a stranger? Or with his crew mates? Well, since the furniture van driver is the king of the enterprise, he broke ranks, and crossed that invisible picket line.

Somehow, the house got emptied and the truck got loaded. Last impression that night -- the driver turns to the one loader who'd cooperated with him and asked, "Do you know where I can get some herb?" and pantomimed toking a joint.[1]

The next day, the loader was wearing a different color shirt, and working for the competition across the road. He'd been fired, for getting between the driver and the crew, and between the driver and the customer. This latter offense was intolerable.

ANYHOW: in the last chapter, we saw how Peter had learned through a vivid, disgusting, and unforgettable vision that he was not to disdain any man made in the image of God. He goes, he preaches, they hear, they respond to the message, and God demonstrates His favor and presence upon an occupation soldier's household. This news did not sit very well with the good Jewish folks back in Jerusalem:
Act 11:1 Elçilerle bütün Yahudiye'deki kardeşler, öteki ulusların da Tanrı'nın sözünü kabul ettiklerini duydular.
Act 11:2 Ama Petrus Yeruşalim'e gittiği zaman sünnet yanlıları onu eleştirdiler.
Act 11:3 "Sünnetsiz kişilerin evine gidip yemek yemişsin!" dediler.
People from other nations were hearing the Good News of the Great King -- and the big issue in the home boys' minds was -- "you went into their home and ate with them! With unclean human swine!" Peter repeated his account of God's supernatural guidance through the entire event, and won their grudging acceptance.
Act 11:18 Bunları dinledikten sonra yatıştılar. Tanrı'yı yücelterek şöyle dediler: "Demek ki Tanrı, tövbe etme ve yaşama kavuşma fırsatını öteki uluslara da vermiştir."
Well. So even those folks over there can be saved. That's nice.

This experience had to have left a mark, however. Imagine Peter walking into the naked hostility and cold, accusing glares of the home town crowd, after he "broke taboo." Years later, when Peter was visiting Christians from non-Jewish cultures in the area of Galatia, now a part of Turkey, a delegation came from Jerusalem. They were friends of James, a hard-core advocate of the notion that good Christians had to be good Jews first. These emissaries, or perhaps spies, so intimidated Peter that he began shunning those who had treated him as an honored guest.

The Jewish Christians of that day, perhaps the majority of them, had not gotten the memo. They were betting on the wrong horse. They had hitched their wagon to the wrong star, a falling star, a culture and nation under a pending death sentence.


[1] Sorry, I'm stuck with the idiom I grew up with, with the vocabulary that leaked osmoticly across from the prominent parallel drug culture.

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