Race relations; All are equal in God's sight
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." Acts 10:34-35. (NIV)
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Our lesson today is about a man named Simon Peter.
You probably know that Peter was a follower of Jesus who lived about 2,000 years ago. He was one of the very first disciples that Jesus called, and he had his ups and downs when it came to following Jesus. He sometimes had trouble understanding what Jesus expected of him.
Cornelius lived in Caesarea and was captain of the Italian Guard there. He was a good man who worshiped God.
One day an angel appeared to Cornelius and told him that he should send some of his servants to Joppa and get Peter and bring him to his house. The next day as three of the servants of Cornelius traveled to Joppa, Peter went out on the balcony to pray. It was about noon, so Peter got hungry and started thinking about lunch. While lunch was being prepared, Peter fell into a trance. The skies open up, and ropes lowered something that looked like a large sheet at its four corners, and it settled on the ground. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was on it.
Then a voice came: "Go, Peter—kill and eat." No, Lord," Peter declared. "I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean. But the voice spoke again: "Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean." The vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up into heaven.
Peter was confused. What could this vision mean?
At that moment, Cornelius's men found Simon's house and asked if a man named Peter was staying there. Peter went out and said to the men, "I am Peter, the one you are seeking. What do you want?"
They explained that Cornelius had sent them to ask Peter go with them to his home so that he could hear the message that Peter was preaching to the Jews. So Peter went with the men to the house of Cornelius.
When they arrived, Peter said to Cornelius, "You know it is against our laws for me, a Jewish man, to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. So I came as soon as your servants came for me."
Then Peter began teaching Cornelius and all who were in his house about Jesus. He told him how Jesus was crucified on a cross but that God had raised him to life. As Peter was teaching them, the Holy Spirit came upon the listeners. Peter couldn't believe it, he couldn't believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on these non-Jews, but there it was—he heard them praising God.
That is the lesson you and I must hear today. The same message that God taught to Peter more than 2,000 years ago. Nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you're from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. Heavenly Father, help us to hear the message and apply it to our lives. "Red, brown, yellow, black, and white—they are precious in your sight." In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.