Far Off

Jon Opgenorth

Read: Acts 2:29-41

For the promise is for . . . all who are far off. (v. 39)

The second church I served as a pastor was in a small town in Iowa populated by many people of Dutch ancestry. My German last name sometimes raised eyebrows: “Opgenorth.” Hmmm. That’s not Dutch, is it?” I never felt unwelcome, but comments like that let me know I was different. Ethnicity, gender, economics, disability, or any number of markers can make us feel like we don’t quite fit in.

On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter speaks a stunning promise about the salvation that came in Jesus’ death on the cross. “The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off” (v. 39). On one level, “far off” fulfills the prophecies that Gentiles will be included in the salvation of the Messiah. The Lord in Isaiah 56:7 says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

On another level, Peter’s promise strikes a very personal theme. In a sermon on this text, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. said, “Pay attention in Luke’s Gospel (who also wrote Acts) to how often ‘far off’ shows up in the stories Luke recalls.” Being inquisitive, I had to look! Sure enough, again and again Luke paints a picture of a God who is personally involved in the lives of the “far off.” Over the next week, I invite you to meditate with me on God’s intimate love for you and me and all who are far off. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, thank God for welcoming you, no matter how far off you feel.