Acts 11:1-18: Don’t major on the minors!

“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” ‘I replied, “Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” ‘The voice spoke from heaven a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 ‘Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.” 15 ‘As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: “John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’ 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” NIV UK

Beware of majoring on the minors.So often critical attitudes in the church sound like this (3). The major thing was that ‘’the Gentiles also had received the word of God’’ (1). Surely the eating with ‘’uncircumcised men’’ (3) was secondary to that? It was a man-made rule. However, I believe it is true to say that every genuine move of God has had its critics. I don’t suppose it will be any different this side of the second coming. It is important, though, to try to win the critics over, if at all possible.     We have to recognise that many sincere Christians have strong scruples they will not easily relinquish. For them, these are matters of life or death, even though in reality they may not be quite so serious. So Peter tried to patiently explain what had happened. He walked them through the story in detail (5-17). After all, his own prejudices had only recently been dissolved in the light of further revelation. In this instance, Peter’s careful ‘diplomacy’ won the day (18). There was a recognition that this was a move of God, and that Gentiles would not have to become Jews in order to be converted.The fact that Luke records Peter’s speech in full when it is a repetition of Acts 10:9-48 shows the significance of this moment in church history. It was a watershed, and a further step was taken in fulfilment of Acts 1:8. It was time for phase 4, and God was in complete control of the unfolding programme of world mission. The Holy Spirit is the supreme evangelist.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you can change our minds. I ask you to challenge and change my thinking wherever it is wrong.