So wrote Luke at the end of chapter 13 of the book of Acts. We were continuing to look at the travels of Paul and Barnabas in Zac's last night and some good discussion arose from a question from Gerry, our homeless alcoholic. Every morning he thanks God for another day yet last night he said he didn't believe all that about resurrection and stuff. From there the discussion went on to how and why we believe what we believe. Is walking on water more believable than coming back from the dead? In some ways it is as there are examples even these days of people who have come back to life after apparently dying.
But to my mind both are more believable than an omnipresent omniscient omni-everything God who exists before and through time and space. And as for eternity and infinity, well, they're as far beyond my understanding as Doctor Who is.
At some point we have to make a choice to believe or not. And, if we believe, to put some things aside as incomprehensible. Not that we don't or can't question but that the answers will not be clear to us while we're alive on earth. And maybe never. Maybe we won't care when we get to heaven. I don't know.
But anyway, with that long discussion the quote that I started with was largely overlooked as we were running out of time and Gerry doesn't like Sean to 'keep going on, mun.'
But I spoke about it afterwards with Sean and Martin. Luke seems to be suggesting that those who will believe are marked out ahead of time. As if God lines everyone up at birth and says, 'yes, you can believe and be saved,' or, 'no, I don't like your face.'
I don't believe that. It contradicts most of what I read about Jesus.
There are lots of contradictory statements in the bible. Some people point these out as flaws and reasons for not believing but while I believe that the bible is inspired by God I also know that it is written by man, and man is fallible.
You only have to look at the four gospels to see the individual styles of the writers coming through. The substance remains basically the same but the way the story is told, the emphases, the language is different.
So when I read something that jars with what I understand of God I have to consider it in light of what else I know of him. I believe that the message and offer of Jesus is for everyone. Jesus makes that so clear in his dealings with women, prostitutes, criminals, aliens, the outcasts and the ordinary. So when Luke talks of appointed it could be one of several things:
a) God knows who will believe and be saved;
b) a challenge to the Jews who would have wanted to be thought of as the appointed;
c) a mistranslation?!
I don't know but I do know that God's love is for everyone.