Read: Acts 10:1-48
But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. Acts 10:28
In Peter’s day and culture, non Jews were considered less than human. They called them Gentile Pigs. Judaism was an isolationist movement and God was for their people only. Everyone else was spiritually unclean.
Jesus regularly spent time with sinners (who were considered spiritually unclean) and from time to time would reach across ethnic lines, but spent a majority of His ministry with and to the Jews. So it makes sense that the early disciples struggled with cross cultural missions.
Their heritage was xenophobic, and Jesus demonstrated openness to non-Jews, but didn’t lead aggressively in that direction. He said His ministry was to the Jews first. The long term plan was to send His followers to the rest of the world.
And He does. In Matthew 28 He sends them to the ends of the earth. In John 3:16, He declares that God loves the World (not just the Jews). Jesus clearly had global aspirations and radical inclusiveness in mind, but the disciples struggled early on with walking that out.
In this passage, through multiple visions, the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, and God’s speaking to Peter, the Lord makes it clear that the lines of separation are now gone. This is no longer a Jewish movement only – it’s a people movement.
Peter’s statement that “… God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean,” is as profound now as it was then. Some Christians today try to separate themselves from the world because they don’t want to be defiled by “those” people.
Jesus hung out with “those people,” and God made it crystal clear that we are called to “those people.” His plan is to use us as He did Peter, to spread the news of His grace, forgiveness, and presence with us.
So who do you think of as impure or unclean? Maybe it’s racial, maybe it’s socio-economic, or a particular lifestyle or addiction. Whoever it is for you, remember that you are the plan for reaching them, and remember what Peter said… “… God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.”
God forgive me for being judgmental and for isolating myself from the people who need you the most. Help me to see where you are leading me to share you, and forgive me for any prejudice I carry in my heart. I lay down my prejudices here and now. In Jesus’ name, amen.