Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Daily Bible Reading:Acts 11:1-18
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?" Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat.' But I replied, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time the voice answered from heaven, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.' And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, "Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life."
Comments: This passage tells us of how Peter began to accept those from other nations as Christians. It required Peter to accept those who ate non-Kosher food, a real stumbling block to the followers of Jesus. As head of the Christian community, Peter’s acceptance of those who were not Jewish changed the whole of the Jesus movement. He had to accept things that he had always consider evil.
The customs of a religious community change as we find that there are better ways to speak the will of God in our lives. Today’s acceptance of gays and lesbians in the life of the Church is a good example of this. It is important that the Church become the spokesperson for gays and lesbians because it has for so long been the demonizer of LGBT persons. The Church, more than any other institution of society needs to take the lead like Peter because it has been the greatest persecutor of LGBT persons. The Church must be about repentance just as surely as individuals.