Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sacred People (part 3)

In this series of articles we're examining the life of Jesus to see what a truly sacred person looks like. And it may not be the most spiritual or holy person, although that's what we've been led to believe.  The answer may shock you.

Sacred People (part 1)
Sacred People (part 2)
Sacred People (part 4) 

Unholy people

So far we've talked about the need to be authentic and to begin to allow God to expand our thinking.  This time we're going to look at the turning point for the burgeoning Church (found in Acts 10).

As we also learned last time, the Jews sought to maintain their focus on God through isolation.  They wouldn't even eat with non-Jewish people.  But God wanted to invite "outsiders" in!

In Acts 10 God speaks to an Italian Centurian named Cornelius.  He sought the God of the Jews and it got God's attention.    An angel appeared to Cornelius instructing him to ask (the Apostle) Simon Peter to come and share the Good News.  He acted immediately, sending some servants and a pious soldier.  Just as they arrived Peter had a vision from God.

In the vision, he saw a huge sheet being let down from heaven.  In it were all sort of non-kosher animals.  A voice spoke to him: "Get up, Peter.  Kill and eat."

As a Law-abiding Jewish man, of course he refused: “No, Lord! I have never eaten food that is unholy or unclean.”  This happened three times.  As soon as it was over the men Cornelius sent arrived.  God instructed Peter to downstairs and go with them.  When he arrived at Cornelius' house, he made an amazing statement that would turn the Jewish Christian world upside down:

“You people understand that it is against our law for Jewish people to associate with or visit anyone who is not Jewish. But God has shown me that I should not call any person ‘unholy’ or ‘unclean.’” - Acts 10:28

He learned something that was found in the very beginning of his Torah scroll: Every person on the planet has been created in God's image.  The Bible Book of Genesis puts it this way:

So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. - Genesis 1:27

This is something we need to learn today!  We have to learn to view people through God's grace - just as He does with us.  We all make mistakes.  We have all failed.  And we all want God to look on us with grace and mercy, not judgement.  Why, then, are we so judgmental when we look at others?

What did Peter learn?  Don't consider people unholy (unworthy of God's grace and mercy)!  Unfortunately this is exactly how we treat some people.  Most people do pretty well when it comes to racial differences (regardless of what the media would have us believe).  But what about people at the opposite end of the political spectrum from you (liberal or conservative)?  Or involved in another religion (Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon or Atheist)?

What about people that have different moral values than we do - people living together, or involved in pornography or prostitution, those that have had an abortion, abortion doctors or the LGBT community?  In today's American culture, Christians are known as "haters."  We are so recognized for what we're against that very few people know what we're actually for.  In order for us to us to change this we have to learn how to respond correctly.

John, one of Jesus' closest disciples wrote that Jesus was "full of grace and truth" - BOTH are important!  We have to learn how to to speak the truth, but to do so in a loving, accepting manner. (Ephesians 4:15)  Above all, we need to remember that every person we see has been created in God's image, and is, therefore, worthy of love, acceptance and honor.  We can't afford to vilify people or treat them as if they are "unholy."  They are not the enemy!

Tweet This: Every person we see has been created in God's image, and is, therefore, worthy of love, acceptance and honor.

Sacred people are those that have learned to love people in whatever state they find them.  This isn't the same as condoning what they do.  Acceptance isn't the same as approval, anymore than disagreement is the same as hate.  But when we learn to treat people with the dignity that God Himself has placed in them we will see their hearts open to the message we believers have to share.

Any thoughts?  Join the conversation below.

Sacred People (part 1)
Sacred People (part 2)
Sacred People (part 4) 

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