“If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way? When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” [Acts 11:17-18]
What happening here?
In the beginning of Acts 11, Jewish Christians are upset with Peter for eating and associating with Gentiles, who they considered “unclean”. A few verses later, Peter hears from God through a vision in which He tells him that He has made all people equal. Then, Peter, having heard God and being obedient to him, is again with three Gentile men. Peter suddenly witnesses the Holy Spirit encounter the men just as it had been encountering Christians throughout the entire book of Acts. God had showed Peter exactly what He had spoken to him in his vision. The Gentiles were not excluded from God. The Holy Spirit was available to them too. He came for all people. The Holy Spirit is available to all people.
So why does this matter to us?
I think one of the biggest ways this passage can apply to us is in the way it speaks to how we view other people, resulting in the way we treat other people. Specifically, people who are different than us, people that worship differently than us, or even people that believe different than us. According to this passage, there is no one that God does not want to encounter. Just as He saves us and loves us, He wants to do the same for other people. The people around us are sons and daughters of God, just like we are. Though they may be different than us, Jesus died for them too. What if we saw people through the same lens as Jesus did?
So what do I do?
Ask yourself, do you live like this passage is really true? Do your actions and day-to-day life reflect that you believe Jesus is for every single person? How often do you sit and dine with people who are different than us, just like Peter did? Do you stick with your circle of friends who are just like you or do you invite others in, regardless of their differences? I think we all have areas in our life where we could be a little better at this. This week, ask God to show you areas that you are not seeing people as He sees them. Ask Him to open your eyes to people who you could love better. Then, go do it! The pressure is low. God is simply asking you to be around and fellowship with other people. Sit with someone you don’t know in class.. Make a friend in line at Bolton and invite them to eat with you. Have an actual conversation with the barista at Starbucks. Remember, the Holy Spirit is available to everyone and no person is disqualified from the love of God!
God, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you died for me and for every single person. Show me how to see people and love people like you do. Teach me to be boundless in my acceptance of others. Help me to be more like Jesus. Amen.