What really matters

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If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, o Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.

Acts 18:14.15

The apostle Paul was untiring in his activity for Christ, whose followers he had previously persecuted. Now, during his second missionary journey, he was accused by his fellow Jews and brought before the Roman proconsul Gallion. At first no decision was reached concerning Paul, much to his benefit and that of the propagation of the message of the gospel. With the words quoted above the proconsul turned down the accusation.

What Gallion said sounds very up-to-date. He did not wish to judge questions of faith. Many centuries later the relative authority between church and state was still being bitterly fought over. Christians welcome religious freedom not just for themselves, but also because turning to Christ is not something that can be imposed by compulsion. It must come from a personal conviction and decision of faith. The New Testament teaches us that the church was not called to rule over the world, but to follow Christ even in suffering.

Reading Gallion’s words, however, we get the impression that his attitude arose from personal indifference. While it was good not to make a decision as judge, his personal indifference on the matter was perilous. Simply passing Christ by unconcernedly means rejecting the eternal salvation offered us in the gospel.