Gentile Pentecost: Opening a new vista for mission
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism (34)
Someone has said, “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and at themselves with the same critical eye they have for others.” Such advice is difficult to disagree with because it amounts to treating others the way we’d want to be treated. The ‘golden rule’ is hard to deny, but that doesn’t make it easy to do. For instance, how can followers of Christ practice generosity of spirit in a culture that has a reputation for tolerating everything but intolerance? Daily news reports make it clear that our society is not as tolerant as its reputation. However, tolerance has become disproportionately important to our generation. Why? The reason is that democratic freedoms have allowed for the growth of religious, spiritual, and moral diversity. Over time, world news have multiplied with a resulting loss of moral and political consciousness. In a society that defends freedom of religious expression, some choices involve privacy issues that are increasingly difficult to legislate and enforce.
The pluralism of Western society is similar to the multiculturalism of the Roman Empire. Until the emergence of Constantine in the fourth century, the Caesars were not partial to Christ. On the contrary, the Roman Empire was marked by religious diversity and sexual license. In the New Testament, therefore, we find a series of case studies that show us how to live in conditions of diversity. In such an environment Jesus and His first followers show us how to have good judgment without being self-righteously judgmental in the process. Because of our own limited perspective, Jesus gave us reasons to think twice before judging others .when He said, judge not lest ye be judged (Mt 7:1; condemn not, and you shall not be condemned (Lk 6:37)
According to the Gospel of John Jesus was full of both grace and truth (1: 14) By combining both, Jesus gives us a model of moral insight and judgment while insisting that he, Himself was not ready to condemn anyone (3:17). Every human being is created in the image of God more like God than any other creature and worthy of honor. To demean that image is to wound another human being at the deepest level. God “has made for one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17: 26)
Christians live as pilgrims in this world. The secular culture that surrounds the church poses a conflict with the Christian lifestyle. Such conflict is inevitable. When Christian values conflict with worldly practices, the Christian must identify the areas of tension, determine to live so that he or she will not offend others, and do all things for the glory of God. Acts 10 tells of an amazing coming of the Holy Spirit to the group of Gentiles that heard Peter’s sermon. People reported to one another incredulously, “The Gentiles have also received the Word of God.” The importance of this cannot be over emphasized from this point on Jews must abandon their exclusive attitude. And it was a decisive precedent the extension of Christianity. Our Christian freedom should result in evangelistic concern. The witness of one’s personal example is important. The world needs good examples. For any human to say follow me as I follow the Lord is a bold thing. However, this is what expected of the Christian.
Prayer: Lord Help us to lead a life without the attitudes of judgment. Give us the courage to love everyone as we lone ourselves. Amen
Thought for the Day: “Follow me as I follow my father”
Thought for the Day: Apostles who have their focus on Christ soon realize He is the answer.
Dr. George K. Zachariah, Washington Mar Thoma Church.