Summary: Peter & Cornelius. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Acts Chapter 10 verse 1-23.
• In his autobiography the political and spiritual leader of India;
• And the Indian independence movement.
• Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days;
• He read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity.
• He believed that in the teachings of Jesus
• He could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.
• So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church;
• And afterwards talk to the minister about becoming a Christian.
• When he entered the sanctuary, however,
• The usher refused to give him a seat & suggested that he go worship with his own people.
• Gandhi left the church and never returned.
• He wrote: "If Christians have caste differences also, "I might as well remain a Hindu."
• That usher's prejudice not only betrayed Jesus;
• It robbed the Church of a great influential voice;
• And even sadder than that,
• It turned away a person away from trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Sadly prejudice is found all over the world:
• In South Africa it’s black & white.
• In Sri Lanka it is Tamil & Singhalese.
• In Northern Ireland it is Catholic & Protestant.
• In North India it is Muslim and Hindu.
• In Europe if often seems to be Britain verses the rest.
• Even in Britain we boast:
• Four nationalities; English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish.
• Then there is local prejudice e.g. you find in places like Cornwall or Yorkshire.
• "An unprejudiced mind is the rarest thing in the world"
• Unless you happen to be like the man who said: "I am not prejudiced, I hate everyone !"
All of us if we are honest are prejudiced:
• And your prejudice may not be mine.
• And my prejudice may not be yours.
• But if we are honest,
• Even as Christians we can at times still be very prejudiced.
Peter may have been an apostle, but he had a lot to learn about:
• His own prejudices,
• His own biases.
• Because it was essential for Peter to admit (And us),
• That when prejudice is in operation:
• It will always collide with God's grace.
• For God has no favourites, we are all equal in his sight.
• Webster's dictionary:
• Simply defines prejudice as: "Preconceived judgement".
question: Do you see in yourself a tendency to be prejudice against others?
Don't give me an answer:
• Think about it!
• To help you, I want to do a quick prejudice test:
WHAT IMAGES COME TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF:
• Africans, Asians, Europeans?
• What if a family of them, they moved in next door as your new neighbours?
• How about the poor?
• Or those who are wealthy?
• Do you write off people by their age?
• Too old or too young!
• Do you categorize people by the Length or the shortness of their hair?
• By the cosmetics they wear or don't wear?
• What about Socialists? Or Conservatives or Liberals?
• How do you feel about people who have failed? People who are divorced?
• People who have had breakdowns? People who have been in psychiatric hospitals?
(g). What about your religious prejudices?
• How do you view those who attend a different denomination, church?
• Who worship differently than you do? Those charismatic’s or those who are reformed.
Question: Am I making you feel uncomfortable?
Answer: Yes then good!!!
When prejudice is in operation, it will always collide with God's grace.
• In this chapter Peter is forced to come to terms with his own pride,
• Which is the bottom line reason for his struggle.
And through Peter's example we can learn:
• Just how entrenched our prejudices really are.
• And how difficult it is to pry ourselves lose from them.
(1). A Brief Introduction.
(A). Chronologically - the time.
• These events probably took place about six years after the crucifixion;
• In Acts chapters 1-7 the church was born and established in Jerusalem:
• Opposition to the message of Jesus Christ soon grew,
• i.e. Stephen was killed (the first Christian martyr) in Acts chapter 8.
• Then a wave of persecution scattered the believers into Judea and Samaria:
• And as they went, they preached and gossiped the gospel everywhere,
• And as a result of their witness,
• The church grew even more.
Note: Up to now there has always been a Jewish connection with the Gospel:
• (6:1) Jews with a Hebrew or Greek background.
• (8:1) The half-Jews of Samaria believed.
• (8:27) We read about an African Jewish convert (he had been worshipping in Jerusalem).