By Robert Halsey Pine
“Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand 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 message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all.’” (Acts 10:34-38 NRSV).
There is no pedigree or location requirement for us to be acceptable to our Lord and God. We are only to fear Him and do what is right in His name. Peter is here letting Gentiles know that they are entitled to the benefits of the good news in Christ Jesus. Peter is in the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, who along with his family and a group of friends is being accepted into the Christian church.
It is easy to get caught up in the status requirements that the natural world puts on us. There are so many levels of acceptance in society. The worldwide media of our day emphasizes and honors certain kinds of activity and status. Much importance is given to things that in God’s eyes are not so important. Something as simple as a favorite sports team can divide families. Politics, and yes, even religion, divide us. We first need to realize; however, that with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no requirement other than to turn to Him and let Him guide us.
Christian churches can intimidate an individual who is searching for something missing in his life. The Church can appear to be a club for “members only.” Looking in from the outside, some question the faithfulness of many that are in churches. But this is the very nature of the Church that Peter was explaining to the Gentiles. The Church is open to all as the beginning of a journey, a process. As members we are at different places on the journey. We can learn from each other by sharing in Christ’s good news about what lies ahead.
The House of the Lord is a clearinghouse, a leveler of all people. In order to enter it and receive the benefits we must fear God. Fearing God is fearing that we will go in ways other than His. In striving to do right, our fear should be that we would disappoint Him, yet He forgives us.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.