Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Favoritism (02/28/05)
TITLE: NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS
By RENEE GREENE
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“Who art thou, Lord?,” Saul asked, still rubbing his eyes. He thought his blindness temporary. “I am Jesus, whom you persecute; rise, enter the city; it shall be told you what to do.” Saul (later known as Paul) stood, but his knees buckled from beneath him as he stood and he had no choice but to be lead into the city by his traveling companions, who grabbed his arm and led him into the gates of Damascus. He sat there for three days unable to see. He had lost his appetite and refused to drink the water passersby offered him. He didn’t trust anyone, and he certainly did not care for their sympathy.
In nearby Port Lydda, Peter – who had walked with Jesus – was about the day’s travels healing the sick and raising the dead, and during a midday break, as he prepared for lunch, he went to the rooftop of his home to pray while the evening meal was being prepared. As he prayed, he fell into a trance. The sky opened up and a large sheet rolled into his presence filled with four-footed animals, crawlers, and birds. A voice told him to rise up, kill and eat. But Peter refused. “I have never eaten what is unholy.” The voice said to him - What God has considered cleansed, no longer consider unholy.
A week later, Saul and Peter were both ministering in Antioch. Peter preached the gospel according to the laws and commandments of the Jewish right and Peter preached according to the crucifixion and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evening came about and they entered the tavern for a bite to eat, both having heard of one another, but having never met. Paul had been confronted earlier by some men who asked him about Peter’s teachings regarding the act of circumcision. Peter had been telling people they could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven as uncircumcised persons and Paul told them none of that was necessary any longer. They both ordered their food and took their seats within only a few feet of one another. Moments after their dinners arrived, one of Paul’s constituents whispered something in his ear. Paul turned to look at the man called Peter, or Cephas. He nodded to his friend and arose, and walked toward Peter’s table.
“Cephas?” Peter looked up at the stranger addressing him by his nickname. “Yes? Do I know you, sir?” “I came over to introduce myself to you.” “And you are …?” “Paul … from Damascus.” Peter dropped the loaf of bread he had just picked up to bite into and backed away from the extended hand of greeting. “You are Paul? The Paul?” Paul laughed, “Well, I don’t know if I am the Paul, but Paul is what they call me.” “Yes, I’ve heard a great deal about you.” “As I have you,” Paul said, withdrawing his hand, which remained unaccepted.
“I just wanted to ask,” Paul said aloud so all in the tavern could hear, “if you, Cephas, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles, and not like the Jews, how is it you compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews?” Peter was visibly embarrassed and had no answer for Paul except, “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles.” Paul eyed him suspiciously, “Regardless … you know, I presume, that a man is not justified by works of law, but through faith in Christ Jesus? But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found to be sinners, are you then saying Christ is a minister of sin? I hope not. You walked with Him and you have seen Him in the flesh. I should think you would know better than that.” Peter just looked away.
Paul turned to the crowd of onlookers, “As I have said, to find favor with the Lord, you must understand the Lord does not play favorites.”
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