READ: Acts 10:1-11:18 (esp., v11:1-18)
- The Jewish church in Jerusalem struggled with the expansion of the Christian community beyond its Jewish roots. It was hard to admit Gentiles into their circle of relationships. And it wasn’t primarily that they came to faith. It really revolved around becoming part of the community. Note their first concern is that Peter (and others) ate with Gentiles (11:3). Nothing is recorded about him preaching or baptizing, only eating.
- Jewish food laws had separated them from others for 1500 years. That distinction was removed and it left them struggling. The “eating” differs from place to place in the world. For some, it’s skin color, social station, language spoken, physical appearance/style of dress, music choices, etc. Those social barriers arise that keep us from being accepting of someone new and formerly foreign.
- Peter refuses to let a narrow group of critiques dissuade his understanding of God’s purposes. He simply does as God calls him and then reports back what God has done. It’s up to the critiques to determine if they agree with his assessment of God’s actions. Peter refuses to withhold the gospel from anyone, including withholding the social aspect of community relationship. At some point, the rest of us must do the same. We have to get past the barriers of country of origin, skin color, social caste, behavioral background, and/or style of music/dress, etc.
- Reflect on: “Nothing should stand in the way of the gospel of Jesus, including historically powerful barriers.”
- Which social barriers are most difficult for you to deal with?
- Describe a situation where you crossed a social barrier and your friends criticized you for it.
PRAY: Ask God to help us all become “color-blind”; whatever the actual issue is. Pray that we can continue to develop broader social representation in our church. Ask God to use you to help us cross the various barriers.