Daily Devotion – April 6, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison
10:34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,
10:35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all.
10:37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:
10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
10:39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;
10:40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,
10:41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.
10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The better you are at something, the more you are inclined to keep doing it the same way. If you have always been able to persuade people to your point of view using logic, or maybe a winning smile, you will keep using that method of trying to persuade, even when it isn’t working. I know this too well.
The Jews that Peter is speaking to in this passage had their identity tied up for a couple thousand years as “God’s Chosen People.” No matter what happened to them, they saw themselves as exclusive recipients of Yahweh’s special attention and care.
Now imagine the radicalness of what Peter is telling them. Jesus, the Messiah, has come that the WORLD might be saved. Not just Israel. God chose Israel as God’s own nation and showed them how to live and how to look out for others. Now this Jesus, whom some claim is God’s only Son, comes along and says that, out of this chosen nation, God has anointed one man to introduce God’s ways to the entire world. No one’s in or out. Everyone’s included: Greeks, Samaritans, even those Jews who were having a hard time swallowing this idea that they were no longer God’s exclusive people. Indeed, it must have been hard.
It didn’t make Israel any less God’s people. But there is something in human nature that makes us want to be the only one, to be a superior choice over all the others. God is so much bigger than that. And God calls US to be so much bigger than that, too. It would be easier to keep doing what we know we are good at, connecting with our known group of delightful people, instead of reaching out to embrace the entire world of others, who are as close as our local grocery store or public library.
Peter was radical. He preached Jesus, Christ crucified. That was radical. We, too, must be radical in our own small way, including everyone. Because God is radical.
Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us blessings beyond measure and furnishing them to the whole world. Help us to be radical in our welcoming, to show that we are indeed YOUR people. Amen.