Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
This was the full understanding of Peter’s vision on the rooftop three days earlier. When God teaches us things it often takes time for them to sink in, and that process can take hours, days, or even years. We are all constantly learning, or at least we should be. This is something both learners and teachers need to understand. After Paul wrote so magnificently about his own continuing journey toward Christ, he wrote to those reading it, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” (Philippians 3:15-16) In other words, he trusted God to be the ultimate teacher, whether or not he was involved as a “teacher’s aid.” His concern was that people wouldn’t slip back into thought patters and actions from which they had previously been freed. The lesson God taught Peter, through the rooftop vision and then through encountering the people gathered in Cornelius’ house, was earthshaking, even if not in a geologic sense. He was making very clear that, though He chose Abraham and his descendants as His special tools, His concern was for all mankind. That just about split the Church, as Chapter 11 records. The sad thing is, we still descend into “us vs. them” all too often, and the devil does all he can to encourage that. Right now, politics of division based on race are in disgusting display in the US, in direct violation of what God taught so clearly to and through Peter. Those who know God need to stand firmly on His Word, His truth and, as Martin Luther King so eloquently proclaimed, judge people on the basis of the content of their character and not on anything else.
Born and raised as a Caucasian in Japan, I have been aware of this issue all of my life. There have been many people on both sides of that racial divide who have needed this lesson, too. My wife was just reading one of my father’s devotional notebooks from when I was a small child, and he was lamenting the tendency of many Japanese to feel they were unfit for leadership, so soon after Japan’s defeat in WWII. He used his “furlough” (my first time in the US) to insist that the school where he ministered choose another, Japanese Chancellor and not keep the position open for him to return after a year. It is sad to me that when he died, unexpectedly to most, at 64, having recently returned to the position of Chancellor, the school, rather than choosing a Japanese replacement, called a retired missionary back from the US to take the post. I have dealt with people looking at and treating me differently, because of my different appearance, all of my life. Sometimes those differences have seemed favorable to me and sometimes unfavorable, but it is the differences themselves that are the problem. I cannot change other people directly, but I can be an influence and I can pray. I also need to be careful that the content of my character is exemplary! I cannot say that I myself am free from racial stereotypes, so I need to be alert not to let them manifest in my words and actions toward others. God’s lesson to Peter needs to be repeated to all generations!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your mercy and patience toward us all. May I and all Your children stand firm in Your truth, so that the world may learn Christ by the love they see in us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!