Racism, Part 2

In Acts 11 Peter returns to Jerusalem after sharing the gospel with Cornelius (if you missed yesterday’s post, you might want to read it. Here’s a link:Yesterday’s Post.) However, he doesn’t return to a hero’s welcome. Rather, this is what we read in the beginning of the chapter: Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”   In the minds of these men, Peter had committed a terrible sin, eating and meeting with Gentiles. Now, I wouldn’t be too hard on these men. Remember that they had been raised with racist ideals and thoughts; believing that their race was superior to all others. Also, remember that this was not from God but rather man had taken the idea that God had chosen the Jewish race as His ambassadors to the world and man had formed that into a sort of “we are better than anyone else” doctrine….which was definitely not from God.

If you read the next paragraph of chapter 11 you see that Peter doesn’t try to change the minds of these men through human wisdom or reasoning. Rather, he describes what God had done…how God had communicated to Peter the value of the Gentile or non Jewish race. He describes how when he shared the gospel with these people, they responded in a miraculous and wonderful way. After hearing God’s activity, the men respond like this: 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” The remaining chapters of the book of Acts chronicle for us the spread of the gospel to the non-Jewish world.

I think Peter’s example is instructive to us when we encounter people who genuinely believe that one race is superior to another; which unfortunately still lives strong today in the minds of many. Take them to the gospel. Talk to them about sin and the universality of it. Talk to them about grace and availability of God’s grace to everyone. Sure, there are a lot of things we don’t understand. Do you understand why you were born in America instead of Somalia? The only explanation is God’s grace and plan. As I see it, the gospel is the best answer to racism. Don’t be afraid to share it.

 

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