Summary: God's love is not prejudiced; therefore, we will indentify and overcome our own prejudices.
Series: Resolutions Worth Keeping
Title: Love Knows No Boundaries
Text: Acts 10:9-15, 22-23, 28-29a, 34-36
Truth: God’s love is not prejudiced; therefore, we will identify and overcome our own
Aim: To confront and overcome our prejudices.
Life Question: How does God’s love confront and overcome our prejudices?
Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American, is shot to death in an altercation by police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury clears the officer of wrongdoing. Rioting, looting, and burning follow the decision. The pundits who weigh in give us the familiar narrative: slavery, discrimination, stereotyping, joblessness, lack of education, absent fathers, and profiling. The authorities sound off with, “We are a nation of laws.”
Man’s answer to help people live with one another is the enforcement of laws. The hope of laws is to help people live orderly and civil lives. You see this in Scripture: for people to live in harmony, Moses’ teaching was outlined in six hundred thirteen laws to build community among the Hebrews. About four hundred years later, David, in the fifteenth psalm, reduced them to eleven. Isaiah, in the opening chapter, reduced them to six. Micah, in chapter 6 verse 8 narrowed the laws down to three: “To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God.”
Then a religious professional asked Jesus which was the greatest law. His intent was to get Jesus into trouble with the political and religious leaders who controlled social and religious practices by imposing dozens and dozens of laws. Jesus’ answer was a surprise. He did not reduce the laws to one, though he could have. Instead, he reduced them to two. In Matthew 22:38 He said,
"(22) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (38) This is the greatest and most important commandment. (39) The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (40) All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments."
If Jesus had only said “Love God” people could be deceived if it was not true of us. But this second command to love people is not so easy to fool others. On the other hand, if you exalt the second command without having the first, you have no reason to love people.
When will we learn that laws will never change the racism or prejudice which is in the heart? What irony that one of the most hate-filled terrorist groups in the world goes by the name “The Muslim Brotherhood.” The “brotherhood” is actually devoted to the death of those who disagree with them.
I know this is unimaginable, but what if the newscast showed Officer Wilson meeting with the mother of Michael Brown? The officer is deeply moved and upset that the events led him to shoot to death this mother’s son. With remorse choking his words he asks for her forgiveness. With tears wetting the face of this grieving mother, she places both hands on the face of this young police officer and kisses him on the forehead. She looks in his eyes and whispers, “I forgive you.” In that moment portrayed before the world are two hearts filled with grace and forgiveness.
We must have laws because man is fundamentally sinful and bent toward harm. That is powerfully dramatized in the current movie Selma about Martin Luther King, Jr. But it is love which has produced the real change in society toward others. The next time you hear someone in authority say we are a nation of laws, whisper a prayer that God would make us a nation of love. Only our love for God and people has the power to change our bigotry and prejudices.
In Acts 10 Peter the racist learns that God’s love is not prejudicial. God loves all people. As a follower of the Lord Jesus, Peter is forced to identify and overcome his own prejudices. What is true for Peter will be true for every follower of Jesus. If you are serious in your resolve to be more like the Lord Jesus, it will involve identifying your prejudices and looking for ways to overcome them, because God’s love is not prejudicial.
How does God’s love confront and overcome our prejudices?
I. GOD CHALLENGES YOUR ASSUMPTIONS (ACTS 10:9-15)
God chose the Israelites out of all the people in the world to share the message that God has thrown open the doors of heaven to sinners. Instead they took this privilege and made it exclusive to them. They became prideful to the point of viewing non-Jews as being as low as scavenger dogs. When a rabbi walked through a bazaar he gathered up his robes so they would not brush up against a Gentile. Jewish midwives were forbidden to help a Gentile woman give birth because it brought another Gentile dog into the world.