Upsetting the Faithful
Pray the Lord’s Prayer, pausing on the words “Your Kingdom come.” How might you be used to build his Kingdom today?
Read Acts 11:1-18
 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.  So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him  and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”  Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story:  “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.  I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds.  Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’  “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’  “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’  This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.  “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.  The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.  He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.  He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’  “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.  Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’  So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”  When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
ReflectHow did Peter deal with the criticism he received?
Jesus warned his followers that they would be persecuted as he was. It must have hurt Peter that criticism came from inside the believers’ community. He patiently explains what happened, particularly how the Holy Spirit came on the Gentiles just as the same Spirit had come on the disciples, and how this reminded him of Jesus’ words (16; Mark 1:8). He ends up with a challenge (17). It is a carefully reasoned argument, which sets out the facts, and concludes in a way that nobody can refute. Today there are many Christians who are working on the edges of society and the boundaries of what is considered a “Christian” lifestyle. Think of Christian bikers who witness to Hells Angels, and look very similar to them! Also, there are Christian “street pastors” who work in clubs and bars and minister to addicts and the homeless. They can all suffer misunderstanding and limited support from Christians, especially when they bring their still-being-saved friends to a church service. It can be hard to accept different types of people into our Christian family, but if we only welcome people like us, how does that show we are different from anyone else?
Thank God for accepting you. Find out about and pray for those who work in places on the fringes of society.
Merciful Lord, forgive me when I don’t accept those You accept, and help me change my attitude toward them.
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