‘Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:…’
“Because I said so.” Every parent has said it. We say it when we’re tired, frustrated, or we’ve been backed into a corner. It seems like the only way out, and the thing is: It usually works. The kids get it. They can read in the tone of your voice: “Okay, Mom means it this time. We need to back down.”
But it only works until – maybe – age eighteen, and then not so much. It works even less between adults: I can only imagine the number of nights I would sleep on the couch, if in answer to my wife’s reasonable question, I said: “Because I said so, dear.” If I want my wife to join me in something difficult, or in something that flies in the face of what she was expecting, she’s going to want a reason, or a story, that explains why.
I would bet that you’ve found the same to be true in your conversations with people who do not believe – or who are “spiritual, but not religious”: It’s never good enough to say: “Because God said so…”, or: “Because the Bible says so.” The chances are good that your friend knows what the Bible says about this or that thing, and they want something more.
Paul, at the end of the passage above, is invited to bring a “word of encouragement” to the members of the synagogue. What does he do? He tells a story – He tells the story, from the beginning, through Abraham, Moses, the prophets, to Jesus, his Crucifixion, and the mission of the church to the gentiles.
Paul was a well-trained Rabbi – he had the commands of God at his fingertips. He could have simply said: “Well, God said this, and this, and that, and also that.” But Jesus’ story landed on Paul’s well-trained, steel-trap mind, and now he has something more than: “Because God said so.” Paul knows he is part of Jesus’ story, and he knows that His story has completed and changed the story of the world! This story means that Paul, and we ourselves have been let in on: “things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:12)
Do you know Jesus’ story as well as you would like? Can you tell His story with confidence? Can you say more than: “Because God said so.”? …
Prayer: Lord, help me to become a person who can say more than, “Because God said so!” Help me to become a person who can tell your story, and who can see my story in your story. Amen.