Week: 29 of 32
Day: 5 of 7
Scripture Reading: The Story (Chapter 28, page 401 (Bottom section) to 402 (Third paragraph from the bottom of the page)); Acts 10:1 – 23
Despite having listened to Jesus talk to the crowds that followed Him, and participating in the intimate discussions with the other disciples, Peter was still clinging to some vestiges of his upbringing. He, and others, continued to observe the traditions of Mosaic Law, especially the eating and social restrictions. He would no more be willing to eat meat off the restricted list than have a Gentile (non-Jewish) person enter his home or he go to his.
He may have thought taking the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world meant just the many and scattered populations of Jewish descendants. But he should have remembered that on more than one occasion, Jesus had healed a Gentile and praised their faith. Yet the early teaching and Jesus’ example hadn’t permeated Peter’s outlook. It took God’s intervention through a dream – repeated three times for Peter’s benefit, no doubt – to open Peter’s eyes to the fact that the good news of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was open to all, Jew and Gentile. Of course the Apostle Paul had yet to write that there was, “… neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Peter had to be the one, the generally accepted leader of the Jerusalem assembly, to receive the illumination from God.
It’s easy for us to look at Peter’s hesitation with more than a little of a sanctimonious attitude, I mean, ‘how could he even think that?’ But you know, we have our own preconceived notions – prejudices – maybe with whom we’ll share the gospel. We often decide who may or may not be ‘open’ to God’s Word, and with whom we’re willing to ‘break bread.’ These attitudes are based on our ‘before Christ’ ideas, and like Peter, are areas within our lives Jesus must change to make us willing and able to go where He wants us to go. The new life Jesus offers includes a new start on even our attitudes toward others. It’s a brand new outlook reflecting His love, grace and mercy, disposing of our old perceptions and proclivities.
Jesus’ offer to ‘whosoever’ meant exactly that, whoever: no social, economic, ethnic, gender or religious boundaries precluding someone from becoming one of His followers. He spared no expense to make sure the mission was complete, and His gift available to all. We cannot allow old barriers to keep us from being used by Him to reach that one across the street, or next to us in the checkout line at the grocery store, or the one standing wistfully looking at the open yet maybe perceived to be closed door to our gathering spot.
There are no limits to God’s ability to reach across manmade or physical barriers to reach hearts, let’s not manufacture our own.