August 27 I Friday
1 Corinthians 9
“The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.’” —Acts 10:4-6
Obedient to what the angel told him to do, Cornelius sent three men to search for Peter in Joppa. The next day, while these men were on route, Peter was praying on the roof around noon and 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’” (Acts 10:11-14).
Peter was given clear instructions from the vision he received, but he was unwilling to comply. Peter’s objection to get up, kill and eat is actually rooted in Scripture. Leviticus 20:24-26 says, “I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations. You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to Me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be My own.”
Peter’s vision from God, however, was not specifically about food, but about how Peter viewed Gentiles in general. God was challenging Peter’s theological perspective towards Gentiles and asking him to go against all that he knew. The common New Testament theology that Peter grew up in would view Gentiles as unclean and impure; hence, a Jew would never go into the home of a Gentile.
God was inviting Peter to see Gentiles differently and embrace them. But not just any Gentile—God was bringing a Roman centurion into the path of Peter. Acts 10:19-20 tells us, “While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.’”
Cornelius represented all that Peter’s cultural sensibilities considered unclean. Without God’s intervention, Peter would have never crossed paths with Cornelius, because the two groups of people would not naturally mix. God gave Cornelius a vision that led him to send for Peter in Joppa, while at the same time, God had prepared Peter to overcome his cultural bias through a vision. What opportunities has God brought into our life that challenges us to embrace people different from us?
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for not only giving me opportunities, but also challenging me to embrace others different from me. May I be a true witness of who You are in their life.