Thursday, September 22, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Faith Beyond Barriers
Acts 10:44-48
 

Benson Babu
Long Island MTC, New York

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,
 

It is sad to see that regardless of how far we have advanced as a society, we have used our differences to isolate ourselves from each other instead of using our differences to unite ourselves or at least acknowledge and appreciate our diversities. Even in various Christian families and communities, we see our differences in doctrines and beliefs to be catalysts for contention and strife.  What if we stopped to ask ourselves the question: Is this what God intended for us when He made us all unique?

In the New Testament, as early Christianity began to take root in various parts of Israel and Asia minor, we see a subtle form of discrimination slowly make its way into the church. At this point, the earliest of converts were people of Jewish origin. Some of the Jews who converted to Christianity felt that the Christianity was an extension of their Jewish faith. In other words, non-Jews were not part of this ministry or worthy of salvation or had to become Jews first in order to become saved.

In the passage above, Peter watched as the Holy Spirit descended on a group of non-believers. And prior to this occurrence, he had a vision in which the Holy Spirit showed him a sheet with many living creatures and told Peter to kill and to eat.  Peter initially responded by saying that he had never touched or eaten anything unclean. However, the Holy Spirit admonished Peter not to call unclean what God had made clean.  And as Peter saw the Holy Spirit descend on these people, he came to understand what God meant.  The Gentiles were not unclean people; rather they were made partakers of the same holiness that the Jewish community embraced.  Through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, now they were equally empowered with Jewish Christians to spread the message of Christianity throughout the world.

 This experience emboldened Peter to see that God’s love was not confined by color or race or ancestry.  The apostle Paul also expressed a similar understanding in the book of Galatians when he writes….”there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3: 28)

Today, even though we claim to be part of a post-modern society, we still see the barriers that we collectively and individually have set up against others.  We judge others based on what we perceive externally. And it’s in moments such as these we need to ask God for a revelation, just as He did with Peter.  God’s love transcends all barriers and our God is a God that looks at the heart and not the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).

On a personal level, our individual salvation is not the end goal of our Christian faith. The Jews thought they were the sole chosen people of God, but they failed to realize that they were also the chosen conduit through which God would extend His grace and mercy to the entire human race.  As Christians, we are conduits in this world. We are lighted to lighten.  Whose lamp are we lighting today?

PRAYER

God help us not to judge others or discriminate against the people You have placed in the world but help us see that we are conduits in this world to share Your love. Amen.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. " John 3:16.