So I’ve been absent the last few days or so because it’s finals crunch and I have some big papers to write before Friday. However, I was writing one of my papers due last week on Peter’s speech in Acts 10, when this one word grabbed me. I have tried to wait to write this post until after final’s are over (because truly I should be writing my 5000 word paper… but I’m not :-P) but this word is just on repeat in my brain. This beautiful word from Acts 10:15 and its implications have had me praising God day and night for his incredible glory. Go read Acts 10. All of it. I know, it’s a lot, but Oh, what an incredible story!!!!!! This chapter is so full of supernatural intervention that it boggles my mind; it shows how important God thought this message way to the early church. Go read it!!
Isn’t it beautiful? This is the “Gentile Pentecost.” This is not necessarily the first Gentile conversion (see Acts 8), but it is definitely the first time that Peter understands God’s will for Christianity and that it be opened to the rest of the world. God tried to do this in chapter 8, but the apostles were resistant to the idea that even the Gentiles should be welcome into the family of Christ; so He sent angels, visions, and words from the Spirit to make sure that they got the message this time.
In 10:9 Peter goes up to the rooftop to pray but then he gets hungry. While he is sitting there hungry, waiting for his food, God sends him this vision of all sorts of animals, birds, and reptiles and tells him to pick some and eat. But Peter, like the good Law-abiding Jew that he was, is shocked and tells God “NO!” I can just hear the shock and offense in his voice. Like, “God! What?! I’m not eating that! It’s dirty!!” (It kind of sounds like my children when I cook something they find abhorrent :-P) But God tells him – “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
Eventually Peter understands that this vision isn’t just about food – the first and most important meaning is symbolic. It’s about mankind. The Jewish people believed that the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, were unclean because of the food they ate and the gods they worshiped. God was telling Peter that He shows no partiality among mankind; God loves all people of every nation, every tongue, every background. He shows no preference, no partiality, but loves all equally and desires an intimate relationship with all.
As incredible as that is all by itself, that is not my message today. I want to talk about God’s message to Peter: What God has made clean, do not call common.
These words in Greek are so heavy! The Jews believed the Gentiles were “common.” This word is κοινόϛ (koinos) and means common in a sense that it is set apart from the consecrated or holy; in secular Greek it referred to something that had little value. God had told the Jews that they were set apart for Him, so they believed that the Gentiles were common. As for the Greeks, they associated “common” with “having little value.” Don’t we do the same? We look at ourselves or others and judge. We judge ourselves for our past and see ourselves as having little value; of not being worthy to be in the presence of the Holy One. We judge others and think, “they couldn’t possibly be Christian.” But. God says, What God has made clean, do not call common.
See, this word, this beautiful word, “clean,” in Greek is καθαριζω (katharizo). The definition for this word is, “a physical, religious, and moral cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame, and free from adulteration (TDNT, 381).” What God has made clean, do not call common. God has cleansed us; He has cleansed us from all amorality, all shame, all adulteration. He has cleansed us from all our bad choices, all our impure thoughts, all our judgments. I keep seeing a vision of myself in front of a mirror, standing there cloaked in mud – it is dripping from my clothes, my hair, my dirty face; this is me before God. After I made Him the Lord over my life, there is a completely different me standing in front of that mirror. Now I see myself in pure white, glowing with radiance that only the indwelling of the Spirit can give. Each of us that follow Christ have the same reflection; we are each clothed in pure white, having been bathed with the blood of Christ, glowing with God’s radiance.
I took so long to see that God is bigger than all my past sins (and my present and future ones too). In my head, I believed, but in my heart I could not understand. My sins seemed so big, so ugly, so deep that I could not grasp that God was bigger. But Praise Him, He is! And He is far bigger than your sin, too. He has made you katharizo, so that you have been physically, religiously, morally cleansed so that you are now consecrated, pure, and holy in the eyes of your Savior, your Creator.
Have faith, Beloved, God shows no partiality, but lavishes us in His love. He has already cleansed us so that we can be with Him; He loves YOU so incredibly much that He wants to be in your presence day and night, through the good and the bad. He made you holy so that you could live with Him for eternity. Has there ever been or ever will be a love like His? Run to Him today, for He has set you apart and made you clean. ❤
Lord God, you see. You know our fears, our feelings of inadequacy and you understand our hearts. I pray that you give each of us eyes to see ourselves as you see us; radiant in purity, beautiful in holiness. Pour your love into our hearts, so that we feel the depth of love you have for us and wrap us in your peace and joy today. Give us eyes to see others as you see them and love them as you do. Thank you for your grace and mercy, Lord. You astound us. You bewilder us. Thank you. In your Precious and Holy Name, Amen.