June 15, 2009
Acts chapter 10, Acts chapter 10, Acts chapter 10…it seems that every time I go to read the Word lately that is where I am. What is it about Acts 10 that the Lord is trying to get through my head to my heart? This morning I was reading it in my Complete Jewish Bible version trying to get some insight and I came upon a verse that spoke loudly to me.
First, let me give you some background as to what Acts 10 is about. A Roman army officer named Cornelius who was a God fearing man and who was generous to the poor is in prayer one day and he is visited by an angel. The angel tells Cornelius that his prayers and gifts to the poor have come before God as an offering.
The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter who is staying by the sea at the home of a friend. So Cornelius sends some guys to get Peter and bring him back to his house and in the meantime Peter has a vision. In the vision, he sees a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of animals that good Jewish boys definitely do not eat and Peter is told to kill and eat the animals.
Peter says to God in verse 14, “No sir! Absolutely Not! I have never eaten food that was unclean or treif.” (Treif is literally “torn” since meat torn by wild animals is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws, treif means by extension “non-kosher”)(CJBV Glossary of Terms section)
Anyway, just about the time Peter is completely puzzled about what this vision means the men whom Cornelius has sent arrive where Peter is staying and God tells him it’s okay to go with them.
The fellows stay as Peter’s guests for the night and in the morning they and some other followers of Christ head for Cornelius’ house. When they arrive Peter is greeted and here we are to my point…thanks for hanging in there with me…
Peter says in verse 27-28 “As he talked with him, Kefa (Peter) went inside and found many people gathered. He said to them, “You are well aware that for a man who is a Jew to have close association with someone who belongs to another people, or to come and visit him, is something that just isn’t done.
But God has shown me not to call any person common or unclean….” God was breaking down division walls between the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) in the mind of Peter. Those last few words struck my heart.
God is challenging me to look at every individual in a different light, in a way that he views us. So many times, I think that we as followers of Jesus don’t get what he was all about. We find ourselves in a position much like Peter, in that, we don’t associate with “THOSE” kind of people whomever they may be.
As I’m writing, I’m thinking about a lady who was tending a cash register at a store in which I was in line to purchase something recently. There were several men of a certain nationality standing in the line with me and the cashier was of another nationality and after the men purchased their items and left she said to me something about “THOSE people.”
I was floored and it seemed strange to me that she would say something like that being of a certain nationality that other nationalities say “THOSE people” about. Are you totally confused or do you get my point?
I am sure at one point or another in the cashier’s life she had been discriminated against and yet she stood and did the same to another nationality that her nationality was prejudice against. I hope I haven’t confused anyone…maybe this will help, God’s word always has a way of making things clear.
Genesis 1:26-28 “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in or image, in the likeness of ourselves ;…( vs. 27) So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them…. (vs 28)God blessed them: God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it….”
So God created us all in his image and we all came as a result of God blessing us. We all have fears and reservations we have been taught about each other through our grandparents and parents and their parents and it goes on and on, but I am confident that the prejudices and traditions I have acquired through my family and my own experiences concerning other nationalities must be eliminated from my heart because we are all created in God’s image.
God wanted Peter not to look at anyone and say they were common or unclean, this was a stretch for him I’m sure but I’m glad that he trusted God and overcame his fears and the traditions of his people so that we (the Gentiles) might know Jesus, the Messiah, the Way to Salvation.
Now, because we are all learning how to live this new life Christ has given us there is no need for condemnation but there is a need for repentance. Father, I acknowledge and I repent for walking in fear where people of different customs and nationalities other than my own are concerned.
Break down the walls and traditions of my people that are in my heart, let your perfect love come and cast out all my fears. Help me to begin to see what you see in people, help me to see your image and treat every life as precious and uncommon. Give me the ability to discern the hearts of people and treat them as you would. Let your peace rule and reign in my heart by faith. In Jesus name, Amen.
June 15, 2009