Summary: Neighbors. There are good ones and then those we wished would move. Have we become Neighborhaters? Can’t we get along?
Mr. Rogers Sound Track plays in dark - Lights Come on Pastor Enters from Stage Door and lip syncs to track
He put on colorful sweaters. Changed his shoes. Sang a goofy song (Did you know he wrote most of the songs on the show - He was an accomplished pianist and had a music degree). Over the course of thirty-one years and 865 episodes, Rogers used his Neighborhood to model kindness where neighbors love and support each other through difficult times of death, divorce, and danger. It was also a space where Rogers helped viewers confront their own fear and prejudices in a non-threatening way.
The prevailing message from his show was about neighbors. The preaching was preceded by a special song that asked this question . . . "Won't you be my neighbor." He drove this message home by making statements like this . . .
(SLIDE 2) "Out of difference can come the reinforcement of Iwo important values. One is tolerance and the other is awareness that people who disagree over the things they hold dear really can live together in love and respect."
? Fred Rogers
Today, I want us to examine one of the more difficult challenges we face in our country and in our attempt to avoid being neighborhaters.
For simple background Peter and John have been preaching Jesus and the religious rulers don't like it so they throw them in jail and put them on trial. Peter is going to respond to their questions and Scripture says this right before he gives a powerful speech.
Acts 4:8 (Message)
With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose:
I will come back to that statement. Let's leap forward to
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
For sake of time you know that immediately Gentile men showed up from Cornelius' house and Peter goes with them preaches. They get saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter says . . .
10:45 - “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
Then finally fast forward some to
Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.
But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up (somebody spoke up) to Peter in front of them all: “If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you’re not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?”
Can I just show you a couple of things.
It is possible to be Spirit full and only skin deep.
If we are not careful we can allow skin to be more powerful and more important than Spirit!
Peter was full of the Spirit. He was also full of prejudice. He was Spirit full but he was also a racist. We can't deceive ourselves to believe that just because we are full of the Spirit that we can't be full of hate. Hate must be intentionally rooted out. The overriding theme of the Day of Pentecost was that it unified. But perhaps we need to take a second look and see that it unified one group of people and there had to be subsequent work done by God to remove the hate that was so deeply rooted in the lives of these men.