Posts Tagged ‘good intentions’

Peter Works With the Gentiles

First off, my apologies for the absence of posts for the past week. The Thanksgiving holiday combined with prepping a sermon for this past Sunday had me tied up the tail end of last week…and yesterday I slacked because it was my day off from work…but here we go.

Today’s lectionary reading is found in Acts 11:1-18.

Here in the earlier section of Acts, much of the narrative action centers around the disciples, and particularly Peter. This particular section is interesting to note as Peter is interacting with Gentiles. It is well known that he tended to work more directly with Jewish believers while Paul worked with Gentiles, but as we see here, that was not an exclusive situation.

In this reading Peter is actually forced to defend himself with the community of believers in Jerusalem for his acceptance of Gentiles. He takes some hits regarding Jewish law, particularly dietary, or possibly just laws dealing with clean-ness (verse 2-3). Peter’s response includes a vision that he had received. Ironically, this vision had to do with dietary restrictions as well, but interestingly enough Peter applies it to the acceptance of believers that are not from the Jewish background.

We also hear Peter attest to the fact that he received a message from the Holy Spirit indicating that no distinction should be made for anyone (verse 12). Personally I’m encouraged by this passage. As mentioned earlier, Paul tended to be the one to work directly with the Gentiles, but here we see a connection with Peter as well. Though the two apostles would butt heads later on, we see here that they have some common ground to work from.

Finally, there is one particular phrase from this passage that I find very relevant, particularly from the perspective of trying to apply our own interests onto what God plans out. Verse 17…”who was I that I could hinder God?” All to often I think we get in the way. It’s not intentional. In fact our intentions are often good, but that doesn’t mean that we are correct in doing so. I’m reminded of the sermon that I preached this weekend. It focused on King Saul. I talked about how his good intentions often blinded him to the fact that he was disobeying God. This is particularly evident in 1 Samuel 15 when Saul defeats that Amalekites but fails to destroy them completely as God had instructed. Saul chose which part of God’s instructions was “valid” and what wasn’t. In short…he was hindering God.

A good lesson to be aware of.