“We must be open to the redirecting hand of God upon our lives.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 10, 2021
I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ Acts 11:5-9, ESV
In Acts 11, we encounter one of the most difficult moments in Peter’s life. This chapter begins with these words: “Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God” (Acts 11:1). Time and distance remove the shock and scandal of these words. We read them as a neutral bit of history, inserted simply to keep the story moving along. Yet for any God fearing Jew, including Peter and the early apostles, this single sentence would have stopped them dead in their tracks. The Gentiles also received the word of God?
The people of Israel were formed and shaped around the belief that theirs was a special and exclusive relationship with God. He made promises and entered into a covenant with them alone. He was their defender and provider, and this relationship set them apart from everyone around them. As the Lord says in Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great.” The people of Israel clung to these words with all their might, yet failed to see their connection to the final phrase in this verse, namely, “you will be a blessing.”
The blessing of God was given to a specific group of people so that they could share God’s blessing with the entire world. This was the vision from day 1, and in Acts 11, we see the early Christians embrace and step into this radical calling. Peter’s entire world was turned upside down as he saw the blessing and presence of God descend, not simply upon the Jewish believers, but those who had spent centuries outside of the formal blessing and promises of God. It is impossible to overstate how radical and disorienting this would have been!
While rooted in the timeless revelation of God in his Word, we, like Peter, must be open to the redirecting hand of God upon our lives.
We must realize that we may, in the name of God, have clung tightly to beliefs and positions that in fact stand in opposition to his love and goodness for mankind. It is possible to be sure of the revelation of God, and at the same time be suspicious of our “mastery” of the way of discipleship. The sickness of sin distorts our perspective and clouds our judgement in countless ways. Let us walk the way of humility, conforming our ways to the ongoing work of God in the world, even when it requires of us a radical and redirected step of faith!
Father, give us an openness to a life of ongoing growth and, when needed, redirection, so that we may live fully within your will for us and love for the world, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How can you foster a posture of humility and openness to the guiding hand of God in your life?
The Porter’s Gate: Have Mercy On Me
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