Unfortunately, my Bible reading times are usually very limited and I get distracted easily. This leads to a fragmented understanding of the context of what I’m reading (that’s why I need dBrag so much!).
One of my favorite things about performing in the shows I’m involved in is that I get to see the whole story at once. I remember the first few years of performing in “The Rock & The Rabbi“, I would frequently get so involved in the narrator’s delivery that I would nearly miss queues or almost fail to be ready to come in on my part. One reason is that the narrator, Gary Richardson, is such a gifted storyteller. The main reason is the story itself. Just hearing it happen all at once, in context, uninterrupted, gives it new life and fresh meaning. I couldn’t help but be drawn in…
The same thing happens with our new show, “The Witnesses.” As I read Acts 10 this morning, I was reminded of a particular show I was performing (when I had learned my parts pretty well and stopped worrying so much about the notes and the music) and I was able to really listen to Gary’s lines. This scene (found here in Acts 10) really impacted me. I had read all the parts to this story separately, but was never able to string them all together as eloquently as Gary is able to do. the whole picture never really popped out like this before.
I’ve hinted about what’s going on here in my previous few posts: how God’s plan was to spread the good news to all nations, all people, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all parts of the world. Well, at this time, many in the Jewish nation felt that as God’s chosen people, the gospel story was just for them. Gentiles (anyone non-Jewish) were filthy, unclean and were looked down upon as second-class citizens. Clearly, God came to save everyone, including the Gentiles.
Peter’s vision of the unclean food is God’s way of setting up the scene for what was about to happen to Peter. He was preparing Peter for what was to come. He gave Peter a vision:
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
In the script of “The Witnesses”, the line is, “nothing here is unclean,” And it resonated within me that first time I was able to really listen to the narration as I was performing.
You see, immediately following Peter’s vision, men from the house of a Roman commander came to find Peter – as God Himself had told them to do. Peter was about to go into the home of this Gentile and minister the Good News to him and his household. Through the vision, God was telling Peter that the Gentiles were not unclean. A “good” Jew understood about Kosher foods and the need to avoid anything that was not. They thought they understood the same thing about avoiding “unclean” Gentiles as well. But, God has other ideas.
This was not an easy lesson for the disciples and the leaders of the early church. This issue was about to cause huge division inside the new church. All hell was about to break loose within these men’s lives. I think Peter may not have understood what was about to happen. But, he was only obeying what God told him to do. And that’s all that mattered.
This gets me thinking about my life. Would I have been willing to go against the established understanding if I felt God was guiding me to do so? What about you? What if it goes against what you’ve been taught for years? What if it goes against the traditions you’ve held since childhood?
“Nothing here is unclean.”