Bowie Apostolic Church
Acts 11: Crossing the Ethnic Divide
by From the Pastor's Desk on February 11th, 2013

Acts 11:1Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” …. 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 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?” 18 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.” 

Breaking Down Walls of Culture and Social Class

In our postmodern world, we think that ethnic issues should never be an issue with Christianity. However, we are all human. It takes time before we stop thinking like mere men and women before our minds are governed by the Spirit. Culture is another thing that we use to define ourselves. This is irrelevant when we consider that we serve a universal God. Over time it became obvious:

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:9-11)”

But at the time of the earliest church, there was not a widespread understanding that the salvation the Jesus provided through Calvary was for all races, cultures and languages. Sometimes we act as if we have not learned the very valuable lesson that Peter and the early Apostles learned 2,000 years ago. Sunday morning is still one of the most segregated times in America. It is cheap for me to only harp on race on this subject, but Colossians 3:11 tells us it is social class (slave or free) and culture (barbarian or Scythian). In our society, these two categories also speak to education level. All of these things can be used to divide the church and the Spirit of God is showing them (and us) that He transcends all of these categories.

Despite this point, Peter was confronted for merely setting foot in to Cornelius’ house. The fact that he preached the gospel was somehow irrelevant to the minds of his brethren. They had not received the vision from God, only Peter did. There is something about having a vision that you pursue and obey when others don’t see it. You may be criticized, but the truth will bare itself out over time.

Peter answers them with a compelling answer that quiets them. He didn’t just go have a meal with Gentiles, but he went that they may sit at the Master’s table and be fed. The Gentiles received the Holy Ghost. Not only did he answer that, but he makes an observation that only an original disciple could make. His observation is found in verses 15 and 16. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is what Jesus was talking about in Acts 1:4-5. Therefore, what happened to Cornelius and the original disciples on the Day of Pentecost is the truth of Jesus baring out right before us in scripture.

Other disciples in Antioch began to minister to Hellenists (or Grecians, in this context these are actually Greek speaking non-Jews) while some in the same city would not. The bible says that those who continued to follow the Spirit and break down the wall of division had flourishing ministries. No one has the right to confine our ministries to a certain race or social class. We don’t and others don’t. We are not a club where there is a critique of membership, but all mankind is allowed in the Church.


Posted in Acts, Bible 2013    Tagged with power, peter, culture, ethnic


1 Comments

Sherri - February 13th, 2013 at 8:30 AM
Wow, I never really thought about the comment you made when you said that Sunday is one of the most segregated times in America, but it's so true.
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