Here is what God is saying to me through this chapter: This chapter opens with Jewish Christians taking issue with Peter for eating in the home of a Gentile named Cornelius (vv.1-3). Devout Jews don’t eat with Gentiles, and yet Peter did. It was important for Peter to build a friendship with Cornelius to share the good news, even if it meant Peter had to put his religious traditions aside. Peter recognized that, while many traditions are good they should not prevent us from loving God and loving people. I have been in the church long enough to see how sometimes Christians are better at drawing traditional lines in the sand than we are at building bridges to people. The challenge for Peter and those first Christians is the same as the challenge facing us: How do we maintain both our personal holiness and our loving embrace of people?
Here is what I will do today because of what God is saying to me: I’m at a place in my Christian development in which I really don’t care what “religious” folks think of me if I reach out to those who may be on the religious community’s hit list. While I don’t want to offend anyone, I would rather offend religious traditionalists than clueless seekers. I will continue to challenge myself and the SWC to grow deeper in our holiness, not a holiness that draws us into a huddle away from people but a holiness that actually moves us out toward all people in love.