Read Acts 10:1-48
Peter, a devout Jewish leader, was confused. A vision of food he was forbidden to eat appeared three times to him. According to Jewish rule, certain foods were off limits. (Check Leviticus 11 for a list of clean and unclean foods). Peter had followed the rules all of his life. He did this to honor God and to show he was part of God’s chosen people. The vision instructed Peter to set aside those rules and eat the forbidden food (v. 13). Was God really saying it was okay to eat these foods? Wasn’t this part of what set the Jewish people apart from the Gentiles? Wasn’t this practice of abstaining from certain foods, among other rules, what honored God? Was the traditional Jewish way the “right” way?
God was not asking Peter to dishonor God. He was calling Peter to a unity with Gentile believers. God’s request of Peter was not about the food. It was about setting aside differences in order to worship in a unified way. This unity was based on their common faith and belief in the one true God.
The contrasts between Peter and Cornelius were stark. Peter was a tradesman and of humble Jewish background and religious training. Cornelius was a Roman official with military training and had the financial resources to share generously with others. Despite these differences, God was calling them to unity. God wants all of us to share in this unity.
God’s love is the unifying factor. God sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for all people. He made a way for all who love Him to spend eternity with Him. We may not all worship Him in the same ways, but we all serve the same Savior. God does not show partiality based on ethnic background or social status or educational training. God examines the heart.
Maybe God is not asking you to eat certain foods, but maybe He is asking you to share a meal with someone of a different ethnicity or culture. Or maybe explore the traditions of a different race in order to better understand the differences in lifestyles. Perhaps you could take time to thank God for the diversity we get to enjoy in life and how it points us to a loving God who loves our acts of worship that praise His name no matter our social standing or background.