The Religious Clique Enforcers
Whether it’s a high school cafeteria, an elitist country club, or even a church down the street, we all tend to hang with those who share our interests, our socio-economic level, our physical features, and a host of other characteristics that define our “group.” We talk a lot about diversity and inclusivism, but try to leave the group you usually associate with and eat with a member of a different gang, and you can count on it. Not everyone will be happy.
The Apostle Peter found this out two thousand years ago. With a divine vision the Lord himself jolted him out of his Jewish exclusivism. He sent him to Caesarea and made him eat and drink and even sleep in the home of a Gentile centurion. As we discovered yesterday, the Holy Spirit got so excited about the receptive hearts to the Gospel in Cornelius’ household that He poured out His gifts upon the Gentiles the same way he had upon the Jews at Pentecost. But when word got back to Judea about all this, not everyone was happy.
“The Apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision group took issue with him. They vehemently argued, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’” Acts 11:1-4
It’s a big deal who we eat with and cliques often use this tactic to maintain control and isolation. God has made it very clear in this account who he believes are the “good” guys and the “bad” guys. We have to decide whether we will agree with him and like Peter start hanging out even with those that our “in” group rejects or whether we will try to lock up God’s Good News about his Son using our exclusive religious rules about eating and drinking.
LORD, thanks for my spiritual life class this semester at Dallas Seminary where you took athletes, musicians, counselors, Texans, Easterners, blacks and whites, and even an Ethiopian and united us. Keep tearing down the personal barriers that I build that can keep me from personally connecting with all the different types of folks you are molding together in Your Family.
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