Christ is risen!
I grew up in the volatile 1960’s when the Civil Rights movement was really getting traction. I watched as a boy as marches and riots occurred around the country and our nation struggled with throwing off the scourge of racism and the sin of discrimination based on the color of a person’s skin. By the way, how is it possible that the pigmentation of someone’s skin could make them less a human than someone else? It was a troubled time. And, as usual, we humans did this badly.
And yet, how often through human history have we watched and, God forgive us, even participated in dehumanizing the other based on preferences and prejudices. If it is, as we Christians insist, that all humans are created in God’s image, then partiality based on how a person looks, or where a person is from is, frankly, ridiculous.
Look at our lesson today in Acts 10:34-43:
IN THOSE DAYS, Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
St. Peter preaches that the coming of Jesus and the coming of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost opens his eyes to how God sees all humans. This is the natural result of becoming like God because Jesus opens the way to we humans seeing as God sees.
Peter is a good son of Israel. He knows the story of how God promised the Father of the Faith, Abraham, that God would make Abraham’s name great; that God would make Abraham’s children as numerous as the sands of the seashore; and that God would bless the whole world through Abraham. He knows the story of God delivering the nation of Israel from Egypt; how God gave His Torah, His Law through Moses; and how God led the people through the desert for 40 years, teaching them to depend on Him for their lives and for their insights into God’s ways. Peter knows the story of the way God gave Moses the vision of heavenly worship and how Moses was instructed to make the “Tent” of Meeting (which eventually became the Temple) like what God showed Moses how worship was done in heaven by the angels around God’s Throne. Peter was in a long line of Jewish people who had been shaped and formed for centuries by the stories of “God’s chosen people” and how God’s people were to live differently than those who did not have God’s wisdom for living.
And all of this wisdom was meant to be a witness to the whole world to show everyone how God intended humans to live with Him forever.
But these chosen tribes forgot this was eventually supposed to include everyone. They thought their “status” as God’s Chosen People meant they were forever “better” than everyone else. And this amnesia to the truth reduced these people to something they were never meant to be: Proud of their status instead of seeing themselves as servants to the whole world. And it cost them the Kingdom!
Today, have you forgotten that God shows NO Partiality. Have you fallen for the trap of pride in a bloodline or a culture or even a status that makes you think that you are better than someone else? If you have, then you’re headed the wrong direction. Our Faith is meant for everyone, and we who are God’s people, His Church, are meant to show everyone the Way Home by being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. On an all new Faith Encouraged LIVE this Sunday, Fr. Barnabas is going to be taking your calls, your questions, and your comments. He is also going to begin a discussion about the recent survey of Orthodox parishes about Evangelism and Outreach. Don’t miss it this Sunday at 8 PM Eastern on AncientFaith.com.