“I have made you a light to the Gentiles”
Where I studied theology, we were strongly discouraged from taking passages out of context, or appropriating individual verses for ourselves, or a set of circumstances we find ourselves in. Interestingly, here Paul and Barnabas seem to have no qualms about doing this. Come to think of it neither did Jesus. Intriguing isn’t it. In our day, the burden of proof, the need for scientific rigour and so on, on those of us who claim to hear the voice of God and act in His name is extremely high. When you see how some people use and manipulate the name of God, it is easy to see why this is so. However, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. As Paul and Barnabas saw many people set free, and the opportunity to speak of the love and mercy of God increasing, so more and more people were drawn to them, and to God, by the integrity with which they lived and spoke.
We can easily get drawn in to the battle to prove our faith, the existence of God, the righteousness of our cause. God does not require this though. He merely invites us to accept the privilege of being a light to the Gentiles, those who do not yet know Him. We have been commissioned. Are we willing to live as lights in a murky and darkening world, or would we rather rant and rave as the ship sinks?
We have a hope that, rather than sinking in to the finality, the world will be renewed and all will be saved. If we really believe that salvation is possible for all, it is for us to live like we want others to receive it. More parties, less services. More celebration, less meetings. More joy, honest, real joy, less naval gazing. A growing picture of who God is, which is open to more and more revelation day by day, not a closed, finished canon of belief and practice. It’s exciting!