It is amazing how often we act based on half-truths and confusion.
In the reading today in Acts 21, we see that Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to Jerusalem and, upon arriving, the local believers there know that there is trouble that will be awaiting him. The Jews have been talking about Paul as a traitor of his heritage and of his faith, going out into other countries, and in those places speaking against Israel, against their traditions.
Of course, Paul is a Jew himself and hasn’t rejected his heritage, and nor has he rejected their way of life, nor their traditions. But he has come face-to-face with the Messiah and his life has been changed, and because of this, his entire life was turned upside-down. He was given a new life. He was shown the way to know God. And this is why he has gone to both Jews and Gentiles everywhere – to tell them that they also can know God. They also can come to him through the one and only mediator, Jesus Christ.
But alas, the lie is frequently believed more easily than the truth, which is what has happened in this case. Paul had even followed the advice of the church in Jerusalem. He had gone to complete purification rites, specifically to show people that he had not rejected the ways of the Jews. Specifically to demonstrate that he was still one of them, and no more than having just finished, he is accused with the abounding narrative, the lie that had been told, and was continuing to be believed:
When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.”Acts 21:27-28
The people believed the lies about Paul so easily that they had even thought that Paul had led a Greek into the temple, a grave sin of defilement of the temple from the perspective of the law of the Old Testament, just because they saw him with a Greek person while out in the city. Nothing like jumping to conclusions…
And to apply this to us
Still today, confusion is everywhere. Even now, we want to believe we know what is right because it is what we have known. Or we believe it is right because it is what seems good to me. But we miss the bigger picture. We miss the real point. We listen to others, not realizing that there is an agenda behind what they are saying, not realizing that they are selling us something, not realizing that we are selling the freedom of our minds and hearts to others for a lie that we believe will satisfy us for a little while.
Instead, we must look to the truth, and there is one place that is found. The truth is found in Christ, and him alone. His Word and his Spirit give life. Every other person’s teaching, every other philosophy, every other way of life bring us to nothing but, at best a waste of time, or at worst physical or spiritual death.
Let us not about in confusion. If we know the words of Christ, if we know the Word himself, then we can know the truth. Our identity will be found in him. Our way of life will be found in him, and instead of confusion and believing lies, we will have life, and life to the full.