We read yesterday about the challenging reception Paul and Barnabas received in a synagogue. Some of the religious Jews were angry that they were teaching about Jesus, since to them it seemed to contradict their tradition. Basically, the religious leaders in Jerusalem had judged Jesus guilty of blasphemy for calling himself the son of God. When the evangelists continued that message, it shouldn't surprise us, or them, that many other Jewish leaders also felt that was blasphemy.
In today's reading Paul and Barnabas discover that there are entirely different challenges preaching to gentiles. With many Jews the issue is a disagreement about what the Bible means; with gentiles, the challenge is a totally different religious background. The confusion in this story will be repeated in other places and times with gentiles. The truth is that whenever we talk with people from a different background we have to remember that our background shapes how we see the world, so misunderstandings are possible. The more we can be aware of what our assumptions are and how they might lead us into misunderstandings, the easier cross-cultural conversation will be.