Read Acts 10
Focus on verse 28
I had to take my car in for repairs this morning and as I have often done before I took advantage of their offer to give me a ride to where I needed to go rather than wait for the car to be repaired. As I got into the vehicle my driver opened the conversation with the question, “Have you voted yet?” in reference to the coming presidential election. I answered him as I always answer that question with a “no sir, I have not, nor am I planning to do so since the folks administering the election typically frown on Canadians attempting to tamper with American elections.”
He smiled politely and went on to explain that he had voted that morning. In the conversation that ensued it became apparent we had decidedly different opinions about the presidential candidates and their platforms, as well as what the media was saying about them. The conversation was always polite though it was obvious we did not agree.
As we neared our destination we found a point upon which we could agree. We agreed that despite the increase in racial tension that seemed to be causing the nation to become more divided, there was really only one race – the human race. He then explained how when he had married a woman whose skin color was not like his own, many of the people he had grown up with not only did not accept her, but they also no longer accepted him. He tragically no longer felt welcome in his own church.
He and his wife did eventually find a church where they were welcomed, but it was interesting to hear his perspective. When we finally arrived at my destination and the conversation had to end, he expressed gratitude that the two of us, could discuss topics about which we did not agree and express our opinions freely without losing respect for one another.
In today’s reading God prepares the Apostle Peter to cross a cultural boundary that he may have been reluctant to cross if God had not prepared him for it. Peter is waiting for dinner to be prepared when we dozes off and God sends him a vision of a great sheet that is lowered in front of him with unclean animals on it, and a voice instructs Peter to kill and eat. When Peter refuses, the voices rebukes him saying “do not call unclean what the Lord has made clean”. This happens three times, after which Peter is awakened by the sound of the gentile guests who arrive to invite Peter to the house of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion.
Peter agrees to go with them and when he arrives he immediately addresses the proverbial elephant in the room. 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.” (v. 28)
When God made humans, he made us all unique. There are no two exactly alike – even what we call identical twins have subtle differences. We have different cultures, we have different shapes and sizes, we have different languages, and we have different shades of brown and not so brown skin, but we are all human. There is ONE human race, and what we all have in common is that we are made in the image of God.
That image has been marred by sin, and sometimes we don’t see it all that clearly, but that image is still there. God’s plan of salvation includes every human, but He leaves it in our realm of responsibility to choose if we will accept His plan.
One race, one plan of salvation, one God… it is really not that complicated.