Daily D – Acts 10:28
Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. ACTS 10:28 (NLT)
A football game was on television. Neither team was the Dallas Cowboys. Eight-year-old Dave asked his dad, “Which ones are the bad guys?”
All jokes aside, professional football is not about good guys versus bad guys. The dad wisely explained this to his son.
It does not take long for us to learn the lesson of who is with us and who is against us, good guys and bad guys. We see this and hear it everywhere all the time. In literature, we have the Montagues and Capulets. In old movies, we have cowboys and Indians. On television, we have CNN and Fox. In the ocean, we have dolphins and sharks.
Brain research explains how we are wired to notice familiar similarities as good, and unfamiliar dissimilarities as, at best, questionable. Sesame Street reinforces this. They show a picture with four items, three of which are alike. Then they sing a little song saying, “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”
Do you belong?
Who gets to choose who belongs and who does not?
Do you remember the presidential news cycle leading up to the elections in 2016? Do you remember how all the news networks pumped up Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? The media loves a good story. To get ratings which lead to advertising dollars, they choose who the heroes and villains are based on well-worn stereotypes. They then tell their stories through those shortcuts. Nuance does not translate well in soundbites.
Consider current news coverage of those places where protestors have created autonomous zones. Are they bold and righteous anti-racism crusaders? Or, are they opportunistic criminals? Or is it that simple?
The old trope states, “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.” Good guy or bad guy? Montague or Capulet? Cowboys or Redskins? Hatfields or McCoys? Sharks or dolphins? Simon the Zealot or Matthew the IRS agent?
God gave Peter a new way of looking at people. First, he showed him a vision. Actually, he showed him the same vision three times (Acts 10:9-20). Peter was very big on threes.
He denied Jesus three times.
Jesus asked him if he loved him three times.
He received the same vision three times.
It was kind of like a sermon I heard a while back. The preacher took fifteen minutes to tell us what he was going to tell us. Then he took fifteen minutes to tell us. Then he took another fifteen minutes to tell us what he told us. Peter probably would have liked that.
God showed him in the vision that he should not call unclean or impure anything God had declared clean. Peter knew the rules. He filled the role of a stereotypical Jewish man with his stereotypical pride and prejudice. After the third sheet full of ham sandwiches and fried catfish, Pete agreed with God. Then the centurion’s staff called on him.
The last person on earth Pete would hang out with willingly was a centurion. This is the kind of guy who oppressed and abused Jews. This was the kind of guy who nailed Jesus to the cross. Interesting, isn’t it, that it was three men who came looking for Peter (v. 19). Do you think Pete noticed what God was doing there?
Peter went with those three and took some of his own kind with him as he went. Long story short, we arrive at v. 28: “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.”
One of these things was not like the others. One of these things just did not belong.
Wrong song. God loves everyone and so should we. God loves everyone, including you and me.
Everyone. Always. Forever. You can look it up. (See Rev. 7:9)
I will see people groups and individuals as God does.
Our Father empower me to see every person and every group of people as you do. Thank you that you love everybody, including me. Bring your grace, healing, and reconciliation to our land and to our world as we move away from the sins of our past. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.