Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 34 | Acts 10
Acts 10 Reflections and Questions
By Rev. Lindsay Geist
A story of two men. With two very different lives. Cornelius is a centurion, a Roman citizen, a Gentile. Peter is a Jew, one of Jesus’ beloved inner circle. They didn’t share the same opinions, experiences, or community. And with the culture at that time, even though Cornelius and Peter were both men of faith, they would never have shared a meal or gathered in a home together. Their shared love of God didn’t negate the cultural belief that they were worlds apart as Gentile and Jew. These two men would not have interacted with one another – let alone seen each other as part of God’s family together.
Our brains like categories. Therefore, we try to classify everything. And often the easiest way to do so is in binary terms. Things are good or they are bad. There are winners and losers. There is a right choice and wrong choice. We get taught early in our lives, whether implicitly or explicitly, who we should be friends with and who we should stay away from. These binary beliefs often take even deeper root as we get older. As humans, we tend to keep things separate – intentionally or unintentionally. We classify people, even if it is only in our minds, to help us interact with the world around us.
When we encounter people that are different from us, it is easy to see them as the other or the outsider. There are people like us and people not like us. We can quickly identify our differences. We categorize people into categories of "us versus them" and then ascribe value to them based on the perceived category. We see this happening around us today – even in churches. The divide over masks, sexuality, Black Lives Matter protests… the list goes on and on.
Then we read this story – one where God shakes things up. Where these two groups have always lived separately, God is impartial and doesn’t see the boundaries. God doesn’t want people disconnected from each other. God illustrates this message by sending the Holy Spirit to fall over everyone. Not just the Jews, but “even on the Gentiles.” The people that were often seen as "other" were initiated into the body of Christ's followers. There was no longer simply two separate people, now existed one community together.
I challenge you as you read Acts 10 this week, to wrestle with how God is shaking you up to find ways to bring the whole community together.
WEDNESDAY: (vv. 1-8)
Reflection: Has God ever asked you to do something and you obeyed, even without knowing the end of the story?
THURSDAY: (vv. 9-16)
Reflection: Have you ever experienced a moment when God revealed something new to you and it changed your mind?
Reflection: How was Peter’s reaction about people he has often seen as outsiders surprising to you? When have you crossed the threshold and invited someone in that was previously seen as an outsider or other?
SATURDAY: (vv. 23a – 33)
Reflection: Jews and Gentiles didn’t mix. But God showed Peter that “I should not call anyone profane or unclean.” What group of people has your church possibly treated as an outsider before, much like Jews treated Gentiles?
SUNDAY: (vv. 34-43)
Reflection: Peter says, “I 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.” What is radical about what Peter has just said?
MONDAY (vv. 44-48)
Reflection: The Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles, initiating them into the kingdom of God that was previously perceived to be only accessible to the Jews. How is this similar to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit united people together? When have you seen the Holy Spirit unexpectedly show up before to make sure people are no longer disconnected from one another?
Reflection: God has overcome the obstacles separating Jew and Gentile. What obstacles are you going to start to overcome in your own life and in the church this week to bring people together?
Rev. Lindsay Geist serves as Church Transition and Clinical Resource Specialist for the North Georgia Conference.