Ever since the Tower of Babel, humankind has been divided according to differences between one group and another. Language, culture, ethnicity, nationality, religion, social and economic differences have been barriers for us to cross. Our pride, self-centeredness and ethnocentricity are all at work when we see people that are different from us. As a result, we like those that are like us and dislike those that are not like us. This has become the chief barrier in bringing the gospel cross-culturally.
Peter, as a Jewish person, adhered to the culture and customs of his own people. There was an unwritten law in not associating with or to visit anyone of another nationality or race. Gentiles are unclean and the Jews are not supposed to be defiled through such social contacts. When Jesus, a Jewish person, talked with the Samaritan woman by the well, He was crossing three barriers: religious, racial and gender differences. One has to overcome such barriers in order to be an effective fisher of persons for the Lord.
God changed Peter’s mind by giving him a single vision three times, confirming that it was from the Lord. When Peter said “no” to God in not eating the unclean animals, God repeated the vision twice more until Peter got it. Peter’s conclusion was: He should not call any person common or unclean. Every person is created by God and should not be looked down on as inferior. We are all God’s children and everyone is equal before Him.
The second thing that changed Peter’s mind was Cornelius, a righteous Gentile who was a seeker whose good deeds and prayers pleased God. God, for the sake of his family, sent Peter to bring the gospel to them. An angel was sent by God to deliver a message to him even before he knew about Jesus and the cross. Peter learned that God showed no partiality to any nation or people, “but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.” God deals with everyone alike: those who seek after Him will not be rejected.
The third evidence was the evidence of the Holy Spirit giving gifts to the Gentile believers. Gentile believers were equal to the Jewish believers in that the Holy Spirit fell on both without difference. God created all equal, we are all God’s children. Christ died for all people, no one is excluded from His salvation. The Holy Spirit works in all people, turning their hearts to God and showers them with gifts.
If God is God, then His heart is for all and we should not have any prejudice toward people that are different from us. Ask God now to forgive your prejudices.
Ps 134:1-3 1 Kgs 15:25-17:24 Acts 10:23b-48 Prov 17:9-11