Summary: When we love with the love of God our love is absolutely free of partiality.
Title: Something God Doesn’t Do and Neither Should We
Text: Acts 10:34-44
Thesis: When we love with the love God our love is absolutely free of partiality.
“Is there anything God cannot do?” is an age-old question. When I was a boy the biggie was, “Can God make a rock so large that he cannot lift it?”
If you were check out the beliefnet web site you would see that beliefnet lists 19 or 20 “Things God Cannot Do.” Among them lie, leave you or forsake you or forget you, sleep, sin, change and break a promise.
Another site says “God cannot learn; God cannot lie; and God cannot make you love him.” (Not so sure about the “cannot make you love him” but prefer to think God will not make you love him.)
I think our Acts 10 reading reveals another thing God either cannot or will not do. The context is that of God having, through a vision, convinced Peter that the grace of God was for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. I have cherry picked, so to speak, Peter’s understanding and interpretation of that vision: “God does not show favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”
When God loves, God loves in a big and all inclusive way. No one is excluded or left out. And Peter, despite all of his previous biases, opened his heart to love even the Gentiles.
Let’s face it, that’s a tall order. Some people are easy to love and some people are not easy to love.
I. Some people are easy to love, some are not
“How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” James 2:1
If you can start the day without caffeine; if you can get going without pep pills; if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains; if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles; if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it; if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time; if you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when through no fault of yours something goes wrong; if you can take criticism and blame without resentment; if you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him; if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend; if you can face the world without lies and deceit; if you can conquer tension without medical help; if you can relax without liquor; if you can sleep without the aid of drugs; if you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, or politics; then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog. (Reprinted from "Mikey's Funnies," a daily e-mail humor list (6-26-02); submitted by Mike Herman, Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
A. The Text: “A Warning Against Prejudice.”
• A question: “How can you claim to have faith if you favor some people over others?” 2:1
• An example: A rich man attends church and gets special attention while a poor man attends and gets pushed into the margins. 12:2-3 (“Go stand over there or sit on the floor.”)
• An assessment: Discrimination reveals evil intent. 12:4 (“Doesn’t this show your judgments are guided by evil motives?”)
• And violates the law of love… prejudice violates the law of love and is a sin. 12:8-9
B. The Tension: The way we demonstrate prejudice or bias in our relationships.
1. Being Biased – Bias is a tendency to believe some people, ideas, etc., are better than others which
usually results in treating some people unfairly.
2. Being Unbiased – Being unbiased is showing no prejudice for or against someone or something, i.e., to
God does not demonstrate any bias or favoritism toward people. In our Acts text this morning we read of how God does not show favoritism. The point that God has and shows no favoritism is repeated in passages like Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 3:25. Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 speak to the total impartiality and lack of favoritism in the heart and mind of God: God does not act with deference with regard to race and ethnicity in people. God does not see people as social class in people. God does not see gender. God does not see socio-economic status in people.
However God does apparently notice when people are treated partially and/or impartially. God does see prejudice and discrimination.
The tension then becomes not only how we think or feel but how we act or treat people. Are our attitudes and is our behavior consistent with seeing and treating everyone impartially? (Keep in mind we may be biased toward the poor as well as toward the rich, etc.)