December 12, 2017

Hindering God

December 12, 2017


Psalm 27

Isaiah 4:2-6

Acts 11:1-18

This weekend’s reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11


An important song from the musical, South Pacific, says, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear.”

Strong words, but true. Accepting others, welcoming others—really others—is not easily done. But to hate does not only mean to deeply dislike. It can also mean reject or ignore or choose against.

This was the case even in the earliest church described in Acts. The Gentiles and the Jews for many reasons did not naturally like each other. Each group had its claim to be chosen. But God was convinced that their attitudes toward each other needed adjusting, converting.

As Peter mentions in a significant defense of this need, even the Gentiles were “filled with the spirit” and “Who was I that I could hinder God?”

God’s grace falls equally on all—on the just and the unjust, the loved and the hated. Who are we to challenge that? How can we unlearn our fear of the other and continue on God’s work? To do less might be “to hinder God.”

There were unlearned shepherds from the fields, as well as very learned wise men from the East, who were all welcomed to worship the newborn King. One could wish they were all there in the stable at the same time. What an image and a lesson that would be!


  • Whom do we hate and fear? Why?
  • Is there a way for us to turn prayerfully from that hatred and fear toward the light of God’s grace?
  • What can we do today to unlearn those kinds of lessons?


  • Why do we dislike some people?
  • Is that the way God would like us to live?
  • How can we learn to love them instead?

Help us, O Lord, to acknowledge our fear of others. Forgive our hatreds and lead us to overcome them by your grace. Amen.