Luke closes the book of Acts in somewhat of an open manner. He tells us that Paul “stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31 NASB). While we want to know exactly how Paul’s legal matters turned out and whether he survived this imprisonment at Rome, as far as Luke is concerned he has accomplished his purpose. He had shown us what Jesus continued to do and teach through His body, the church, from Jerusalem to Rome. Maybe the open ending is designed for us to be less concerned about Paul and give more thought to how we fit into this continuing story.
Our nation is suffering right now and the wounds are self-inflicted. We can come together to fight cancer, Alzheimer’s, or heart disease. But it’s a different matter when the problem is us. In such times, there seems to be a preoccupation with establishing who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s not that that isn’t important (though much more in terms of what’s right rather than who), but the inevitable result seems to be that everyone ends up pointing fingers rather than extending hands. This is a time when we need to join hands and you can’t do that when you’re pointing fingers.
This morning I saw a headline from Texas—Weatherford specifically. It seems that not long ago there was a situation in the county jail there. A guard outside a cell collapsed and was having a heart attack. The inmates saw what was happening and yelled as loud as they could for help but nothing happened. Then they broke out of their cell. Although the guard had keys and a weapon, they ignored these and sought to help him while beating on the walls and making as much noise as they could. Finally, other officers showed up and the guard’s life was saved. The inmates went back into their cell.
Don’t you love how this little light shines in our present darkness? This is a good story for the church (in fact it sounds a lot like Acts 16). We’re people who have been released from our cells that we might go out and minister to the world around us. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they’ve been—everyone is known intimately and loved ultimately by God. And the body of Christ is to be a model of humanity coming together—old and young, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, all loving and caring for one another.
May God help us to live as the body of Christ in today’s world.