Daily Dose, May 17 — Family of God

 

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”

Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance, I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely, I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” (Acts 11:1-17)

“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

I imagine many of you recognize that phrase and could join in singing the rest of the children’s song. I learned the words as a kid, and I can easily join in still today is someone begins singing. Songs shape my theology, and this one is no different. It may simple, but it’s powerful. From an early age, it began to teach me how high and wide and deep is the love of God. Even though the song specifically talks about “children,” there was something in me that always understood that the application of this song went far beyond children.

Who do you see when you look at the people around you? Do you see color? Do you see nationality? Do you see language? Do you see differences? Do you see similarities? Do you see disparities? Do you see commonalities. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…”

In the New Testament, Peter was well versed at drawing distinctions. Even though he was a disciple of Jesus and was committed to live out the calling of the resurrected Christ on his life (Jesus told him to “feed my sheep”), he was under the assumption that the calling only really applied to a certain group of people. But then God opened Peter’s eyes. The Scripture reading today tells of how Peter’s eyes were opened. Verse 17 says, “If God gave them the same gift as he gave us…who was I to think that I could oppose God?” And who are we?

Over the years, I’m so glad that God has continued to show me the truth that was revealed to Peter. My time in seminary at Emory University was a beautiful indication of this: I gathered in classes to study about God, the Bible, the church — and all things related to them — with people from all over the world. I got to know people from different continents and with different accents and skin colors, and we came together to learn about and worship the very same God! Who were we to oppose God?

“Red and yellow, black and white…they are precious in his sight.” And so are you! — Rev. Brad Greene