July 27, 2014
God Shows No Partiality ~ Martin B. Copenhaver
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. From Acts 10:34-43
In Jesus’ day there was a great enmity between Jews and Gentiles. So perhaps it is not surprising that, in the earliest days of the church, there were many who thought that the good news of Jesus was for Jews alone. Peter was particularity fervent in his belief that in order to be a follower of Jesus one had to conform to Jewish practices. But then Peter was touched by the faith of a gentile named Cornelius and he received a vision in a dream that showed him otherwise. Peter said, to everyone’s astonishment (and perhaps his own), “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”
Given what perter had previously believed, it would have been remarkable if he had said, “I truly understand that God does not want us to hate one another.” It would have been startling if he had said, “I truly understand that God wants us to accept one another.” It would have been revolutionary if he had said, “I truly understand that God wants us to be in relationship with one another.” But Peter says more than any of those things, and more than all of that combined. Peter says, in essence, “No one is in and no one is out. We are the same in God’s sight.”
That story is such a pivotal one, not merely because it traces an important moment in the history of the church, but also because it reminds us that history continues. God is still extending a wider welcome than we would be inclined to give.
PRAYER: god, we affirm that you are still speaking. May we still listen. Amen
Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 222.