“On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he *saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.”
Acts 10:9-16 NASB
There is a sickness sweeping the world. It is infecting people everywhere, causing havoc and locking away hearts. Many are living in fear. I am not talking about COVID-19. It is the sickness of bigotry. That sickness takes many forms, that go beyond the boundaries of race or skin color, and infect people of differing faiths, genders, economic strata, and even
the length of ones nose, as Hutus slaughtered Tutsis over such a distinction in Rwanda in 1994.
I grew up in a world where issues of race were being confronted in real time. I also grew up at a time when events in one part of the country were in contrast in other places. I remember seeing pictures of young black men being assaulted, with drinks dumped on them as they sought to be served at the Woolworth lunch counter in the south. At about that same time, I sat at a Woolworth lunch counter in Downtown Des Moines with my mother. I ate my burger and fries, while my mother chatted with the white waitress.
The issues of race are pervasive in our culture. In most situations, it is not a matter of overt racism, but a more subtle bias. Most churches in Des Moines are segregated and few question it.
If one were to delve into the reality of bias, one might find that the tendency to separate is fed by a sense that the others are somehow different. If one digs deeper, one might find the ugly truth of true bigotry. “We don’t want to associate with ‘those’ people”
When I think of Peter on the roof of Simon’s house, I think of a man who spent His entire life holding a strong cultural bias against non Jews. They consider those outside the faith as dogs and did not want to be under the same roof, as they considered them to be unclean. Now, here is Peter up in the roof, praying, and he becomes hungry. The Lord presents him a smorgasbord of fresh food choices, and Peter falls back into his cultural bias. Jesus presents the food three times, and Peter refused.
Jesus was preparing Peter for the calling that He has for him. He was being sent to the gentiles to open the door. “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” That is a lesson that the world needs now. It is a lesson that the church needs as we see the opportunity the Lord has placed before us.
When I entered the doors of Grace Church years ago, I knew that I was a part of the cure. For many, I was the first black person that many had really gotten to know. When I look at my life, I can see why He sent me. My life defied the superficial stereotypes that people use to divide themselves. He took away the excuses, and left the true motivation of bigotry, clearly on display for those who needed that separation.
God worked in my life and the lives of people that I came in contact with, inoculating them in part against the dreaded disease of racial hate. Through that experience, I learned about others and others learned about me. I felt my life filled with love which corralled the infection threatening my heart.
Jesus is the cure. The Gospel is the injection that opens the door for infected lives to be made well and whole. Peter obeyed the command of Jesus and went on to share the Gospel with Cornelius and his household. Instead of separation, all became one in Christ. The Promise to Abraham came to fruition.
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.””
Genesis 22:18 NASB
I learned from my days at Grace, that ours is a universal God as He reaches all people, everywhere! I remember going to Haiti for the first time. I marveled as I saw group of white people from Iowa worshipping with the locals. The love of the Lord was seamless!
He is a healer of the great divide, the uniter of hearts, and the saver of souls. Our world is in dire need of the healing that only Jesus can bring. I would love to see people reaching beyond the comfortable boundaries, to share the Gospel. Imagine black people sharing with whites, and whites sharing the Good News with blacks. Imagine going to Latinos with the Gospel, and every people group.
There is kinship in the Lord. I love watching the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I see all the faces of people of all imaginable races, standing as one, singing praises to the Lord. It is like a little piece of Heaven. It is the peace of Heaven!
There is great joy when brothers and sisters come together in harmony.
As you go today, pray for the people that you see who don’t look like you. Jesus is the great God of all humanity. May the Gospel become a pandemic!
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!