Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.
Comment: Last time we were in the book of Acts we found the gentile Cornelius converted to Christianity and baptised in water and by the Holy Spirit. You would think that the new church would have been delighted, after all Jesus’ commission to them had been to go to the end of the earth with the good news of God’s God’s mercy and grace. But, as always, there were some who were still trying (or so it seems to me) to have a foot in both camps. They wanted the forgiveness which Jesus gave but also they wanted the exclusiveness of Jews being God’s special people. So Peter repeats his vision and what God had shown him, about how God wanted him to change his outlook. Peter shared the ‘up and down’ story of the animal filled sheet. He told them of his vision and repeated God’s words to him, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ There is more to the story as will be seen tomorrow, but we often have to learn the same lesson of acceptance that the early church had to learn, when dealing with other cultures than our own.
Prayer: Father, I don’t want to be tolerant in the sense ‘that anything goes’, but help me to respect others with a different view to me, while remaining a true witness to You.