From the Moravian Texts, 1/6/15…
…“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Acts 10:15
In today’s passage Peter’s world view is completely changed by two very different, yet very similar, events.
The first comes as a strange lunch invitation in the bizarre form of a sheet filled with animals. The second comes in the form of an invitation to come to a Gentile’s (a non-Jewish person’s) house.
What is all that about and why are these two events linked together?
The short answer is that the lunch invitation is giving Peter permission to accept the Gentile’s invitation. How?
Both “unclean” animals (those that the Law, or Torah, told the Jews they couldn’t eat) and Gentiles, were socially and culturally taboo to the Jewish people. In fact, the Jews hated the Gentiles. A Jewish person of that time would no sooner go to a Gentile’s house than he would eat a ham sandwich. This wasn’t just something they made up but they could point to chapter and verse in the Bible as to why they shouldn’t or couldn’t. So, because they had a Bible verse they thought they understood the heart of the Father and they had closed their minds off to any other options.
The point of what is happening in this passage is that God is communicating to Peter saying that He has opened the door for His people and His Spirit to move in new and exciting and unexpected ways. Ways that would allow the Kingdom to expand into areas that have been, up until now, closed to the Good News. But Peter resisted, because he thought he already understood everything. What he didn’t realize then, and we often don’t realize now, is that God’s plan is much bigger than our plan.
The Jewish people then, and the Church today, have to allow for the fact that God may open up doors to us that may have been closed in the past and that we may not really understand everything that God is doing. But by faith and prayer (after all, the reason Peter was on the roof was to pray) that we open ourselves us to all that God has for us even though it might be scary and different, and we might catch some flack from our fellow church folks.
Chances are that most of you who are reading this are Gentiles – from a non-Jewish background. The reason that you, and I, have the Gospel is because the Father opened the door to us and that Peter went against cultural and religious norms and stepped through that open door. He knew that bringing the message of Jesus to the hated Gentiles was going to cause him a lot of grief with his fellow Jews, but he was faithful and did it anyway.
What doors are God opening to us today?
What are we calling impure that God has made clean?
My prayer for us is that you and I would have the courage to step through the doors that the Father is opening for us, even if other church people don’t like it.