Acts Devotionals

The Sin of Selectivity

It’s fascinating that fake news will be claimed by many news readers. When people prefer their news sources they will slither away from certain publications declaring them “fake news”. The true test of this is to know four things.

(1) Where did they study?

(2) Are they conservative, liberal of something else?

(3) What political ideology do they have?

(4) What religion and which branch of that religion do they belong to?

Just by the way … this is true of all of us … but when it comes to the Gospel, we need to get it right. True there are fake gospels … but there is only one true Gospel that the Bible provides us with. So far in the Book of Acts we have seen the Gospel presented a few times. There might be different ways to preach (or speak) it, but all the ingredients must line up. Once again we have Peter preaching the Gospel, this time at Cornelius’ house to a large gathering of people. Although a lengthy passage, please read it and seek if you are able to identify the various parts that make a whole Gospel.

Ac 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Let’s dissect the passage piece by piece.

1) Peter admits that he now believes all might enter the Kingdom of God. Naturally this would be through faith in and acceptance of the Gospel Message.

Ac 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Like all of us, Peter still had things to learn about the Gospel, as we do, but here he acknowledges that he “now knows” there is no discrimination with reference to entrance into the Kingdom of God. The concept of “favoritism” needs to be understood because some have used this passage to “prove” God choses some and rejects others. This word refers to one’s external status in the eyes of man and not his or her internal condition (spiritual) before God. One man could despise another because of wealth or poverty, rank or lack thereof, social status, education ethnicity, etc. Let’s apply this to the Jews and their lack of acceptance of Gentiles. It was against Jewish thought to associate with or assist any Gentile.

(a) It was common for a Jewish man to begin his day in prayer saying that he thanked God that he was not a slave, a Gentile or women.

(b) In the First Century, a Jew would not help a Gentile under any circumstances … even if it was a Gentile woman needing assistance in giving birth. Why, because that birth would be another Gentile!

(c) If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jews would hold a funeral service for the Jew and consider that person dead.

(d) Even to enter a Gentile house was to make a Jew unclean. That was Jewish thought and what Peter experienced through the sheet of animals (clean and unclean) and his visitation to Cornelius and his guests (the clean visiting the unclean) was mind boggling to him.

Now we can understand what he means when he says:

Ac 10:34 “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

To infer that God only accepts certain people is sinfully wrong. Some wealthy people are of the opinion that God rejects the poor, and that that is why they are poor, uneducated and from the lower levels of society. They believe they are special to God because He has blessed them with wealth, possessions, high society, education, important positions in business, etc. Many poor people reject the wealthy saying that what they have on earth is their heaven and that’s all they will ever have.

Both these schools of thought are wrong. God does not favor the wealth or the poor. Yes, He wants the wealthy to care for the poor and the poor to respect the wealthy who care for them … but He does not practice any form of discrimination because of man’s lot in life or in society.

As followers of the Lord Jesus, we need to be extremely cautious that we don’t discriminate or practice favoritism. If “God … accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” … then who are we to judge people of wealth, poverty or ethnicity?

We live in a world where these things are thrown around all the time. Even governments hold the ethnic card to (I believe) create tensions to suit their political agendas. But we are Christian. We may not. We must accept all whom God accepts. If God saves a so called poor man, rich man, black man, yellow man, pink man, white man, brown man, healthy man, sickly man, young man, old man … who are we to reject that person? If God makes that person equal to us in His Kingdom, how dare we be selective and refuse to accept, associate or love that person?

God is clear in His Word that all believers belong to each other. Using the analogy of a body, Paul writes:

Rom 12:4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Beautifully we see here God’s teaching of equality and coequal belonging. I hope you are excited that one day in Glory, all believers will be together with one mind and intention … to worship God together, in unity of purpose of praise and adoration. There, the effects of sin such as discrimination, prejudice, selectivity and being exclusive will be no more. Surely, passages like this one ought to provoke us to pursue acceptance, especially in the Church because our God accepts all people who trust Jesus for their salvation.

O Lord our God, forgive us for our sin of being selective as to whom we associate with in the Church. Grant us lives that demonstrate Your love in us and through us to all within the family of God. Grant us a desire to practice here on earth what it will be like in heaven when we are together with You. Amen.

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