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Friday, September 6, 2013
Today’s Reading | Acts 11:1–18
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.” (NRSV)
I think it’s easy to grow impatient with the book of Acts. Many of the stories have a supernatural quality that can be hard to understand. The language is a bit “ho-hum”—not exactly Shakespeare by the time it’s translated into English. Sometimes it’s repetitive. If you turn back to chapter 10, you hear the same story as this one from chapter 11, just from a different perspective. If you can sift through all that, though, I do like the message, and I especially like the repetitive part: Peter found out he was wrong and had to change his mind, but then he had to tell his friends about it.
Have you been there? The subject isn’t always religion. It could be politics or family issues. We don’t like to be wrong at all, but one of the worst parts about being wrong can be having to admit it to our friends.
This is where Peter becomes a role model for faith and life. From time to time, all of us are wrong. The teaching of this passage, it seems to me, is that when we are wrong and the new insight we’ve gained is important, we have to learn to say to our friends: “I was wrong. I misread the situation. I’ve learned something. Can I tell you about it?”
It’s a lesson in humility. Being wrong happens all the time. What is much more rare is for someone to confess that they have been wrong, which allows others to gain from our struggles. It also allows us to grow in our relationship to God, and God wants us to grow and give of ourselves, and even as we make mistakes, keep on living.
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of forgiveness at times when I have been wrong. When I am wrong, grant me the humility to admit it. And help me learn to extend forgiveness to others. Amen.
Written by Adam H. Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship
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