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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Genesis 26:26-31 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
Genesis 22:13, 14 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.
Genesis 21:1-3 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.