Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Salvation for all in Christ
Vs. 18 ”When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
The passage we read today is truly Good News for us as believers that can’t claim a direct lineage to the 12 tribes of Jacob. That we too have the chance for repentance that leads to life. But Peter had to make a bold choice to listen and go against everything he knew about being Jewish and Jewish rules around clean and unclean. If you have traditional/orthodox Jewish friends, they are quick to invite you to their house but are reluctant to visit or enjoy hospitality at your house. This is because at the center of hospitality is food. And the rules around food prep and cleanliness are a long list of kosher or Levitical observed rules, handed down and taught for thousands of years.
For the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread over to the Gentile world, God had to take a step to tell Peter that some things that were closely held tradition needs to change. And this was a key moment for the spread of the Christian movement and for the disciples to know how to live out the great commission that Jesus had stated before he ascended into heaven. Mathew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus spoke to a group of devout Jewish disciples. One problem emerged, when they go to the nations, they won’t be able to enter another’s house, eat their food and share in traditional rules of fellowship with these different nations and cultures.
Not only was the Christian movement a change in how they worship, but now God was saying there will also need to be a cultural change. It was no longer exclusive for one community and culture, it was for all. God spoke directly to Peter to make this change, and Peter then had to convince others of this truth. You can imagine the pushback from the traditional Jewish followers, because change is never easy. This passage speaks volumes to us as active believers in Christ as part of the Mar Thoma Diaspora Community. We can feel or make our cultural traditions and norms be just as important as the gospel, but when we read Acts 11:1-18, we can see the life, death and resurrection of Christ is more important than thousands of years of cultural rules and norms. How blessed we are that God has included us in the repentance that leads to life, and I pray that we can be challenged to be uncomfortable members of the MarThoma community as we try to spread the gospel to the communities we are placed.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same thing, but learning another way to think about things” – Flora Lewis
Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity for eternal life through repentance. Forgive us for times where we haven’t shared your love to people that don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us and eat like us but we know you love them like us.
Shibu Mathew – Epiphany MTC, NY
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church