God Shows No Favoritism
Our Heavenly Father,
Your word tells us that all people are like grass and all our glory the flowers of the field: the grass withers and the flowers fall, but Your word is living and endures forever. We thank you for giving us a new birth through Your word. Please feed us now, so we might grow up in our salvation. Amen.
1. Chapter Overview
Acts 10 is one of the most important chapters in the book. It records the vision of Peter and his meeting with Cornelius in Caesarea.
Peter had a vision of a sheet full of animals being lowered from heaven. A voice from heaven told him to kill and eat, but since the sheet contained unclean animals, Peter declined. The command was repeated twice more, with the voice saying, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (Acts 10:15, NIV) and then the sheet was taken back to heaven. At this point, messengers sent from Cornelius the Centurion arrive and urge Peter to go with them. He does so, and mentions the vision as he speaks to Cornelius, saying "God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean" (v28).
During Peter’s preaching, the Holy Spirit comes on Cornelius and his household, which confirms Peter's interpretation and leads to baptism and to Peter's decision to stay with Cornelius for some days.
2. Three Fundamental Truths in Peter’s Preaching
1) God shows no favoritism and accepts all.
2) Jesus is Lord of all.
3) Salvation is available to all.
Acts 10 reveals that the gospel is for the gentiles as well as the Jews—and it makes clear that this isn’t a human decision but the result of God’s clear guidance.
The Jews have twisted a doctrine of selection into a favoritism, and have been filled with self-pride and hatred toward the gentiles. After the vision, Peter looks at them with a new perspective; he crosses frontiers of nationality to preach for gentiles and stay with them.
A commentary writes, “What we must never forget is that God has shown favor to us precisely because he does not show favoritism. That is the only way you and I ever became Christians. ... Therefore, we must never show favoritism in our presentation of the message.”
You might expect it to be easier to cross frontiers today as we live in this increasingly interconnected world. But the world today is still deeply divided, where barriers of culture, race, religion and others still stand. But in Acts 10, when the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed in the power of the Spirit, it transcends and dismantles every barrier. The Holy Spirit is breaking down walls and creating a community of fellowship and universalism.
So how do you see people who are different than you? How do you see a Muslim? Or a beggar? Do you see each person as someone made in God’s image, whom Jesus has died for, and whom God longs to bring to His family?
In God’s family, there is absolutely no room for discriminations or prejudices. Our church should be the one place where the dividing walls that mark our society are completely irrelevant. If we truly demonstrate this kind of community that Peter began to see in Acts 10, what a powerful witness it will be in this divided world!