Read: Acts 11:1-18
Who was I that I could stand in God’s way? (v. 17)
Peter had some explaining to do. When he returned home with news of having baptized Gentiles into the church, some in the church were dismayed. They were Jewish people, after all, and Christianity was the fulfillment of the Jewish faith. How dare Peter disregard the sacred traditions?
However, as Peter told the story, it became clear to all that it was God’s decision to welcome Gentiles. Judaism was the cultural and religious tradition of all the apostles. It must have felt impossible to let it go. However, as Peter’s story reveals, sometimes openness to the movement of the Spirit means loosening our grip on our traditions, for the sake of extending our arms to others.
Judaism was both a faith and an ethnicity. With few exceptions, one was born into Judaism. The Spirit’s call toward embracing the whole world meant that Christianity could not afford to be an ethnicity or a culture. Rather, it must transcend ethnicity and infuse all cultures. Along with Peter, we are invited into a faith that refuses to be held captive by any one ethnic or cultural group, embracing and transforming all.
After this conversation with Peter, the book of Acts pivots: now the apostles travel to the ends of the earth, sharing the gospel. To fulfill this call to share the gospel, Christians are first called to let go of the need for our faith to fit neatly into our own cultural traditions and expectations. —Amy Curran
As you pray, ask the Spirit for openness.