Being Church, Jesus’ Way

Daily Devotional|Day 272

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’” (Acts 10:34-35, NKJV).

You will not blame Peter for hesitating to go to the house of Cornelius. He was being faithful to Jewish custom. After some convincing by the Holy Spirit, however, Peter succumbed: “You know how unlawful for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28). Peter was a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But he didn’t fully grasp Jesus’ vision of the Church, i.e. that Gentiles too would be part of the Church. Eventually, Peter learned. And he had the humility to admit it.

Peter’s prejudice could have gotten in the way of the Gospel if he had not changed. It was prejudice against people of other nationalities. In today’s Bible passage, Peter finally realizes that God shows no partiality. He realizes that for God, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted. This is the basis of acceptance. Your nationality (or ethnicity) doesn’t get you in or out of God’s Kingdom.

From the outset, the Lord made it clear how He wants His Church to look like. Jesus’ Church is characterized by the fact that, by His blood, He has redeemed us out of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). We are stronger and healthier when we look at people through the lens of Jesus’ blood, and not through the lens of nationality and ethnicity.

Unfortunately, in our modern churches we seem to be erecting the very barriers Jesus paid a heavy price to tear down. It is understandable (in fact, necessary) to offer nationality/ethnicity based services to help those who otherwise would have a hard time functioning in the Church. These exceptional situations aside, in many places we are forming churches based primarily on nationality/ethnicity: church for Ghanaians, church for Koreans, church for Hispanics, church for Nigerians.

Even within the same church, you could have sub-divisions: African service, Hispanic service, Japanese service, etc. Again, it is perfectly understandable to offer assistance of this kind where people have no other way of functioning in the Church. But in some cases, nationality/ethnicity based ways of being church is the norm. In these instances, we have chosen convenience over the sacrifice of the Cross. Love is a sacrifice; so is being Church.

Peter had to sacrifice a lot to accept Cornelius, enter his house, dine with them and lodge with them. It must have been new for Cornelius too. But under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they both overcame the barriers of ethnicity. Jesus could have created one church for Jews, one for Samaritans, and another for Gentiles. But He didn’t. It is a shame that today nationality/ethnicity has become prominent in how we express ourselves as churches.

When our understanding of Church is flawed, it only shows that our understanding of Jesus is equally flawed. Jesus is not asking us to pretend that we are not African, Asian, Hispanic, or White. What He wants is that our nationality/ethnicity does not become the lens through which we express ourselves as God’s people.

If we have ears, let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Amen.

For further study: Ephesians 2:11-22

Published by

Stephen

Motivationa speaker and spiritual teacher.

2 thoughts on “Being Church, Jesus’ Way”

  1. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I have been following politics and the supreme court nomination process. I have found myself getting so angry at what is happening. But when I look through Jesus Christ at those who are acting unfairly and cruelly, I see people who need Jesus and they are acting like the devil because they are under the control of the devil. So, to get angry is to allow the devil to get control of me (Eph. 4). I need to always remember to keep my eyes on Jesus and to see other people as Jesus sees them.

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    1. Hello Joyce,
      Thank you for sharing your testimony. I’m happy the Lord is giving you fresh perspectives. The nation needs our prayers.

      Have a blessed week

      Steve

      Like

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