In Acts 10 God sends a vision to Peter. He puts unclean animals on display, telling Peter to, “kill and eat them.” (Act 10:12-13)
In the Old Testament God gave the Israelites laws to follow. Some of these laws related specifically to food. Leviticus 11 identifies a long list of animals the Jews were not allowed to eat.
Peter is horrified at the thought of eating unclean animals! He’s always been a devout follower of Jewish dietary restrictions. He’s never experienced the fatty goodness of bacon and he’s not about to start now.
But God isn’t speaking specifically about food. God uses the food analogy to let Peter know he’s habouring some pretty strong prejudices towards non-Jews (the Gentile nations around Israel).
In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (NLT)
Peter has been hoarding the message of Jesus, keeping it only for the Jews. His biases are interfering with God’s plan to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and the forgiveness of sins with the entire world.
God gives Peter a spiritual kick in the butt, essentially telling him, “Expand your horizons, broaden your thinking, open your mind to new possibilities, and get over your biased thoughts.” (My words, not God’s)
The great thing about this story is that Peter gets it. He says, “...but God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” (Act 10:28)
Peter has a huge paradigm shift and gives up his prejudices. You and I are followers of Christ because the early Christians pushed past their prejudices and shared the gospel message with people outside of the Jewish culture.
We need to do the same today. We all harbour biases and prejudices. I’m personally working to overcome some prejudices that I can trace back to childhood. Others I’ve adopted as I’ve gone through life, applying stereotypes to people of certain religions or races simply because of media hype or a negative experience with one individual.
It’s time we listened to God’s message, “...Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” It’s time to re-evaluate our personal beliefs. We need to understand where our prejudices come from, why we hold them, and then work at letting them go.
It’s not easy to let go of belief systems we’ve held all our lives. Sometimes you think you’ve succeeded, only to wake up one morning and find your thoughts stink like a cat litter box that hasn’t been cleaned in a week.
If you read Galations 2 you'll find this happened to Peter. After the vision from God he had this great paradigm shift only to revert back to his stinking litter box way of thinking.
We won’t always get it right the first, second, or third time, but if we work at it hard enough and long enough we’ll eventually overcome those damaging, biased, litter box ways.
This week ask God to identify the prejudices you carry. Then prayerfully seek His help to open your mind and change your way of thinking.
“But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”” Acts 10:15 (NLT)
“...but God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” Acts 10:28 (NLT)