Acts 11:2-12 - So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them." But Peter began and explained it to them in order: "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But I said, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But the voice answered a second time from heaven, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.' This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction."
Have you ever talked to a former missionary about food? My advice is "Just don't." They will gleefully describe to you the oddest, scariest, and most repulsive things you can imagine that they have eaten during their service—and they'll do it while you're having lunch. Eww, yuck!
Peter seems to have had much the same response to the vision God sent him at Joppa. While he was praying, he saw a vision of many different kinds of animals, and a voice told him to get up, kill one, and have a meal. Peter was disgusted. Eat a freshly killed animal—not even cooked? Eat an unclean animal, one that was forbidden to Jews to eat by their religious laws? No, thanks, was his answer. Or perhaps we could paraphrase it: "Eww, yuck!"
And then God said something cryptic: "What God has made clean, do not call common." Then the whole vision repeated itself two more times. Peter was left scratching his head. What was the point of that presentation?
Just then several men came to the front door, asking for Peter; they wanted him to go with them to preach the Gospel. Sounds good, right? But there was a catch. They were Gentiles—the kind of people Peter wasn't used to associating with, except possibly in the way of business. He certainly didn't visit their houses! Most Jews thought of Gentiles much the same way Peter thought of those animals in the vision: Eww, yuck!
If we are fair, we probably keep certain people under the same mental category. What about homeless people? Ex-offenders? People who are overweight? People who are excessively healthy? The mentally ill? Immigrants? Those from the opposite political party?
And yet it was these people to whom God sent Peter, saying, "What God has made clean, do not call common." Jesus made it abundantly clear to Peter that He had died and risen for these Gentiles also, and they, too, would receive the Holy Spirit and become part of the Christian church.
It's hard for us to overcome these kinds of feelings about one another. But God has mercy on us and gives us the Holy Spirit so that instead of recoiling or avoiding them, we can learn to love one another as those redeemed by Christ Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, help me when I don't want to be around certain groups of people—You know which ones. Put Your own love in my heart so I can do Your will and love them as my brothers and sisters. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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