The Journey 186
Read: Acts 9: 9-19
A unique and an interesting comment was made by a person belonging to a Hindu Faith Tradition to his Christian friend. He told his Christian friend “You always say that we worship a number of different gods which may run into a few thousands, but then we have only one place of worship: the temple, where every person belonging to a Hindu faith are allowed to enter, and no one is barred from entering into any temple. And then pointing to his Christian friend he said, you state that your belief is only in One Almighty God, but you have thousands of denominations and church’s. What is more strange that a person belonging to one denomination will not go to the church of another denomination, nor is he accepted by the members of that denomination. What is more saddening is that believers of each denomination look down upon the believers of other denominations too”, Strange Isn’t it?. What is being pointed out is the paradox in the life of the church which claims to follow the One Living God. Even in United States, the level of “intolerance” today is also very low according to some church leaders. The news agency Christian Post, has reported that a according to prominent black church leader, that the level of civil discourse in this nation is at all time low. This observation was made by Rev. Franklyn Richardson, who is the chairperson of the National Conference of Black Churches, as he was speaking along with several other in an event on public discourse. According to Richardson it is the church today who has been the culprit in creating a sort of poor environment for civility and tolerance. Thus the level of intolerance in the country especially among the believers is also in an all time low. He says that people today are not tolerant to another person who has a different opinion on issues pertaining to politics, faith or other issues affecting the society. People not only criticize wildly but also try to defame others to substantiate their views, which is not the correct Christian perspective. According to Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission who was another speaker at the summit also quoted and said "It is up to us people of faith to try to lead by example and by exhortation to get people to elevate the discourse by understanding that we can disagree with everything somebody may say without attacking them as a person," It is in such a context that the church has to make its own contribution and be accountable in this area, where by, we create an environment of respect and tolerance and allow ourselves to be used by God rather than growing intolerant day by day.
This week we are meditating on the theme “ Transformation in our community” . The portion that we shall meditate is from Acts 10: 9-19. This portion is famous because it is known as vision of Peter. The context of this vision is that, Peter as he goes to the roof to pray, feels hungry. At that time when the meal was being prepared, he goes to a trance and that is when he sees this strange vision. He sees sky opening up and a large sheet containing all sorts of animals, reptiles and birds was being let down. A voice told Peter to kill and eat them. That is when Peter, replies that he cannot eat anything that is impure according to the Jewish law. That is when the voice replies that “ Do not call unclean what God has made clean”. It is this vision that leads Peter to a new understanding of the gospel and he goes to meet Cornelius who was also commanded by the Holy Spirit to meet Peter. Here is the most wonderful passage in the Bible that confronts our intolerance and our short sightedness about others and also about the wholistic dimensions of the gospel message. Each church denominations today has concepts and laws that tends create barriers and hurdles in having communion with members of another denomination. What is needed today is to find common grounds among the denominations so that we are able to present a common witness to the gospel that we believe. It is this common witness and the common standing that helps the church to be a channel of transformation in our community. Thus God want all his children to inculcate the wholistic dimensions of the gospel message so that gospel does not divide but unite.