Paul remembers. He and Barnabas are being sent. Sent to the Gentiles. Sent to preach the gospel. Sent by the apostles.
What’s the one thing they are asked to do? What’s the one thing they are charged with? What’s the one thing they should remember?
In Galatians 2:10, Paul recounts, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along”.
'They' being James, Peter, and John, asking that Paul, in the preaching the gospel, might remember the Christians in poverty in Jerusalem. Paul does this Acts 11:29-30 and across his third missionary journey (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9,15; 9:1-5, 12; Romans 15:25-28).
One of the most precious and beautiful ways the Church has adorned Jesus' message of good news from the New Testament onwards is by showing compassion, care, and consideration for the poor and those in need. In the ancient world the poor so often included the sick. The sick, whose illnesses led to exclusion, isolation and ultimately poverty.
James 2 and 5 show us something of how the good news of the gospel is adorned by good works towards the the poor and sick in the local church. The poor are to be treated with the same dignity as everyone else, and the sick are to be prayed for and ministered to by leaders.
Both examples are totally upside down and inside out from way the poor and sick were treated in Roman culture, and even by the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' day.
In this significant moment, let's not be 'either/or' people, but 'both/and'; people who are committed to communicating the good news of Jesus, and living out the gospel with quiet and consistent acts of service towards the poor, the needy, and the sick in our midst.