Acts 10:27-29, 34, 44-45 – … “And as he (Peter) talked with him (Cornelius), he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean…” So Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears Him and does what is right, is acceptable to Him…” While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles…”
Stereotypes and classifications circulate around us in every aspect of life. From the time a child is born they’re required to have regular checkups to see exactly where they are in their development; what percentile do they fall into? They grow up and are watched by teachers and staff to see if they belong to group A (more-advanced learning abilities) or group B (the “average” learner.) As they enter high-school, even their peers are taught to start categorizing each other; who is most likely to succeed? Who’s the class clown? Who’s the best dressed?
As they grow into adulthood, they’re immediately poisoned by the media. Exaggerations and bullying of certain political and/or religious groups are on news channels and talk shows everyday. Are they going to be a democrat or republican? Maybe a libertarian? Do they want to be Pentecostal or Baptist? What occupation best suits them? Where should they choose to live? What type of person should they marry?
Separation all day long… Some of these things truly do help us make better choices, and we do have to try and figure out where in life we’re called to be. However, sometimes it becomes so common to pick out the pros and cons of everything, that we do it even when it’s completely out of line- without even realizing it!
I’ve been “in church” my entire life, and I’ve seen people classify other people as “unspiritual,” “liberal,” and “unqualified for ministry,” etc. The sad thing is, they weren’t even making these judgments based on Biblical principles, but on preferences alone. This caused division in the church, hurt in people’s hearts, and roots of confusion, bitterness, and isolation to spring up in the worst of places.
That’s why I love reading this portion of Scripture. God speaks to Peter and prepares his heart. Peter was open and ready to hear what God had to say, and he learned an important lesson, that served a whole lot of good just days later. God shows no partiality. He loves all of His children with an unconditional love. He instructed Peter to never call any person common or unclean. If they fear (respect) God and do what is right, they are acceptable to Him. We have no business classifying them based on our opinions. Sure, we should use discernment, as anyone can claim to be anything… but, discernment is more than a 3 second opinion based on appearance, so be prayerful, kind, gentle, longsuffering… (basically, put those fruits of the spirit into use! Galatians 5:22-23)
God has such a large kingdom! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all learn to work and serve alongside each other with a Godly love and acceptance? Encouraging and supporting each other in our daily endeavors to do what He’s called us to do? It’s not too late to start!
Find a fellow Christian today that you’ve never really spoken with, or even met, and talk about the goodness of the Lord. Share your callings and desires. Start up a friendship that will accomplish great things for Heaven. We’re family. We’re in this together for one purpose- to cause His family to grow! Let’s spread the hope of the Gospel, the peace it brings, and the blessings that come with it!
Let’s forget about who’s the smartest, most talented, and/or most fun to be around. Let’s not focus on “who’s most likely to succeed” anymore. Instead, let’s remember how we’re going to get the most done for the kingdom of God… TOGETHER!
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your unconditional love for each one of Your children. Help us to bridge the gaps that lie between us. Bring us together so we can accomplish the most for You. In Your precious and mighty name, amen.