Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see hungry hearts. Quicken my spirit so that I may fill them with your Word.
The increasing number of Gentiles who put their faith in God after hearing the preaching of God’s Word was a cause for great joy and celebration. Yet, we are told it was also a cause for grave concern to those Jews who believed that Gentiles should not be considered part of the household of faith if they were not circumcised according to the Law of Moses. This dissension caused the apostles to hold a council meeting in Jerusalem to discuss the issue. When Peter took the floor, he reminded the group that it was God’s saving action, through the Holy Spirit, that brought the Gentiles to faith. It was a new move of God, a new revelation, an outpouring of grace that did not require restitution or ritual to complete it. It was the finished work of Christ on the cross at Calvary that allowed Gentiles to draw near to God. Christ’s sacrifice was absolutely enough. It needed nothing more! God had accepted the Gentiles and had performed signs and wonders among them because of their faith in him and not because they followed God’s Law.
Let’s look around in our own faith communities. Are we using religious rituals to keep out those who would come to faith in God? The apostle Paul tells us clearly, “You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own” (Ephesians 2.8). Thank God for grace; it makes us all welcome at God’s table!
Are there people who are being ostracized from fellowship in your house of worship or community because of their ethnicity, social status or past? In what ways can you reach out to them? Do you believe that God’s grace is available to them?
Think of ways to bridge the gap between the people who are excluded and those in your faith community. Meditate on Peter’s words (v 9) and reflect on how God’s grace was extended to you.
Lord, let me not be an obstacle to those who are trying to reach you. Rather, let me be a stepping-stone that leads them to salvation.