Summary: Peter had been raised to believe one thing only to find it wasn’t true. Peter had always thought God was an exclusive God, for the Jews only, that Gentiles were second-class who didn’t deserve God’s attention like the Jews did. But now, Peter sees h
Have you ever believed something, only to find out that it wasn’t true? Consider these old wives tales. If you go outside with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold. Cold weather, wet hair, and chills don’t cause colds; viruses do. Reading in dim light will damage your eyes. Although reading in a dimly lit room won’t do any harm, good lighting can help prevent eye fatigue and make reading easier. Cracking knuckles causes arthritis. Habitual knuckle cracking tends to cause hand swelling and decreased grip strength, but does not cause arthritis. Feed a cold, starve a fever. Both high fevers and colds can cause fluid loss. So you should drink plenty of liquids and eat regular meals. Missing nutrients may only make a person sicker. Wait an hour after eating before swimming. The Red Cross says it’s usually not necessary for you or your child to wait an hour before going in the water. Chocolate causes acne. Sudies show that no specific food has been proven to cause acne. Eating carrots will improve your eyesight. While carrots help maintain healthy eyesight, they don’t improve vision.
Sometimes we are raised to believe something only later to find out it’s not true. That’s what happened to the Apostle Peter. From birth, good Jewish boys and girls were taught that the Gentiles or everybody that wasn’t a Jew was unclean. Jews referred to non-Jews as "Gentile dogs". They wouldn’t sit down to eat with them and were prohibited from even entering a Gentile home. If a Jew touched a Gentile, even accidentally, he would have to go home and wash to become ritually pure. And, if they had to buy something from a Gentile merchant, that item had to be washed before it was used, even furniture. Now in the early church, the followers of Jesus were Jews who believed the Messiah had come. So they practiced the Jewish faith and all of its traditions, avoiding things like the unclean foods and even Gentiles. Now, however, God intended to change all of that.
One day, Peter went up to the roof to pray and God came to him in a vision. In it, a large sheet descended from heaven and contained all kinds of animals and birds. The voice of God spoke and told Peter to kill and eat. But seeing unclean animals on the sheet and being a good Jewish Christian, Peter told God he wouldn’t eat anything unclean. And God responded, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." The sheet then ascended back up to heaven, leaving Peter wondering what the vision meant. As he does, two servants and a soldier arrive at the door. They had been sent by Cornelius, a Roman centurion, to invite Peter to come to Cornelius’s home. Now understanding his vision, Gentiles were not unclean in God’s eyes, Peter accepts the invitation. At Cornelius’ home, Peter presents the Gospel and the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard and they spoke in tongues. Peter couldn’t believe what he was seeing and said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Peter then baptized them in the name of Jesus.
Peter had been raised to believe one thing only to find it wasn’t true. Peter had always thought God was an exclusive God, for the Jews only, that Gentiles were second-class who didn’t deserve God’s attention like the Jews did. But now, Peter sees he was wrong. God loves the Gentiles just like the Jews. In fact, Peter realizes that God wants all people to believe and be saved, not just for a select few. This was revolutionary in the eyes of Peter and not only changed the way he had thought but now how he lived and ministered. And it changed the church’s mission too.
Now it’s one thing to have an inclusive Gospel, another to have an inclusive God but quite another to be an inclusive church and have an inclusive ministry and worship experience. In America today, studies have found that 92% of all churches are mono-racial, that is of the same race. Martin Luther King said that the most segregated hour of worship is 11 AM on Sunday morning. He was right then and he’s right today. And yet that doesn’t seem to be the desire or prayer of Jesus. In his last recorded prayer, Jesus prays for himself, his disciples and for those who believe in Him. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23