Scripture Focus: Acts 11.1-2
1 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story:…
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Reflection: Listen and Change
By John Tillman
We’ve heard Peter defend himself to the Pentecost crowds when accused of being drunk too early in the morning. We’ve heard Peter defend himself before the Sanhedrin for healing a crippled man. But now we hear Peter defending himself, not to strangers or Romans or the powerful Jewish leaders, but to fellow Jesus followers!
These Jewish Jesus followers were incensed that Peter had eaten with the “uncircumcised.” He had done something that, according to their interpretation of the Bible and of Jesus, was unquestionably wrong.
Sometimes we must defend ourselves from those who should be standing with us. Sometimes those whose beliefs are the closest to ours attack us more often and with more vitriol than atheists or adherents to other faith systems. However, Peter’s confrontation doesn’t drag on forever like endless Christian-on-Christian attacks on Twitter.
First, Peter explained himself. But then, two things happened that rarely seem to happen today. First, the confronting parties listened to what Peter said. Then they changed their opinion about what he had done.
We can’t get too idealistic about the New Testament church. They were learning how to be the church following Jesus’ ascension. Many things went wrong. Like us, they had scandals, squabbles, and horrible errors. Church history after the canon of scripture includes even greater fights, arguments, and power struggles. There are heresies, councils, ex-communications, and according to tradition, at least one famous punch/slap thrown by Saint Nicolas.
The New Testament church had many of the same problems we do but they did at least one thing better than us by far. They listened to one another and changed. The apostles listened to the neglected Greek widows. And they changed. They listened to Barnabus about Saul. And they changed. The Jerusalem church listened to Peter about the Gentiles. And they changed. Peter listened to Paul when challenged about slipping back into hypocrisy. And he changed.
When was the last time you listened to a brother or sister in Christ…and you changed? I don’t mean abandoning the gospel or losing trust in the scriptures or compromising biblical principles… When have you listened and turned away from an idol? When have you changed your treatment of others? When have you apologized and made amends? When have you repented? When have you admitted you were wrong?
May we, when confronted with truth, be willing to listen and to change.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us. — Psalm 67.1
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about Cultivation Means Tending
Cultivation begins with destruction, but continues with tenderness and care…cultivated ground…is carefully controlled.
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