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Listen while you read: "Wonderful Peace"1 (Lyrics)
Acts 9:26 – When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! (NLT)
Growing up, I was shunned for all the wrong reasons. Prior to high school, I did my best to live with integrity. I knew that God had a plan for me. You would have thought that a good, clean-cut kid would have been readily accepted. It didn't happen. My physique was nothing to brag about. When teams were picked for dodgeball or basketball, the team captains picked me only because they had run out of choices. Neither did my lazy classmates who didn't like to do their homework or study for their tests enjoy me refusing to let them copy my work. Sometimes, I was bullied. At other times, they just shunned me.
Saul planned to destroy this new movement called the Way. After meeting the risen Christ, however, he wanted to share this change with Jesus' disciples. His anticipation was met with shunning. They didn't trust him. What if his attempts were merely a ploy to expose believers so that he could kill them?
It is quite common for unbelievers to shun believers. Though Christ gives me a mandate to love unbelievers and offer them an invitation to trust Christ, I'm often shunned. They want nothing to do with me or the religion that I represent. Jesus said that many would walk the broad road to destruction. He also said that believers would be persecuted just as He was.
Shunning can also come from other believers. Perhaps, like these early Christians were with Paul, they're familiar with my past. They wonder whether or not I've really changed. Can they trust me to teach a class, work with the youth, or date their daughter? Though I'm forgiven by God, my past hangs over me like an angry thundercloud.
The good news is that God never shuns those who come to Him for forgiveness. When I fail, He continues to give me second chances. Regardless of how others might treat me, I can know that I'm always loved and accepted by God.
When others shun you, remember that God never will.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your forgiveness and for never turning us away when we come to You. Amen.