Rebecca Van Noord
Amos 8:1–9:15; Acts 10:34–11:18; Job 21:1–16
In our comfortable and familiar church homes, we sometimes fail to see the Church as a community of ethnic and cultural diversity. When I returned from a year in South Korea, I was surprised when my family and friends made thoughtless generalizations about people I had come to know and love—some of them fellow believers in Christ. Most of these comments contradicted the multicultural picture of Christianity presented in the book of Acts.
Peter and the Jewish Christians in the early church underwent a shift in cultural perspective. When Peter came to Jerusalem after meeting with Gentiles, the Jews were shocked that he would eat with “men who were uncircumcised” (Acts 11:3). For so long, they had associated their religion with their identity as a nation and as a people group. Although they knew that God was extending this hope to the Gentiles, they needed to be reminded that Jesus was the Lord of all. Peter tells them, “if God gave them the same gift as also to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” (Acts 11:17).
The hope they expected had been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Now Gentiles were being added to their number. Peter testifies, “In truth I understand that God is not one who shows partiality, but in every nation the one who fears him and who does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34).
Strangely, Peter’s speech still needs to be heard today. We tend to confine our faith within comfortable borders—cultural, regional, or racial. We need to be challenged to see people from other ethnicities and cultural backgrounds as fellow followers of Christ. If God does not show partiality, then neither should we. The reign of Jesus extends over all people; God will draw His children from all corners of the earth, and there will be no “foreigners” in His kingdom.
How does your view of the Church need to be challenged?
This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.