Acts 10: 34-43
In today’s passage, chapter 10 of Acts, is a sermon preached by Peter after his plunge into gospel newness. Perhaps, we still cannot imagine how radical Peter’s message was, in verse 34, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”
No matter if we never intend to do it or not, we have fashioned our habits to enjoy God’s divine partiality—Partiality toward Americans, for we continue to imagine we are only chosen of God and give us a pass in the world; Partiality toward males; Partiality toward people who only think, believe, and look like us—keep labeling others as “them,” not “one of us.”
What Peter’s message, “God shows no partiality,” means is that God’s blessings are not limited to those who belong to a particular nation or keep its specific laws, but to those who believe and follow Jesus’s footsteps. With this message, we still imagine what a new world may look like, the world where the Christ child was born and where the good news may be seen, heard, and carried—the ones excluded are invited; the ones discounted are valued, especially those who had previously been excluded.
If I summarize Peter’s sermon in today’s passage, we, as baptized community, are called to appear in a new world, something that we never find in real world--no partiality, no final judgement, and abundant forgiveness. Well, all sounds good, but we have got a long way to go.
In reality, we still struggle with a deep and strong insistence among us—the old partialities, the old privileges; the old entitlements that are to be protected and maintained. Sometimes such belief has turned into a violent monster to exclude and even harm others.
Maybe, Jesus seems not alive in the world. The real world still considers Easter message
as a threat or danger, tempting us to believe that there is no new future; there is no new gifts to be received from God; there is no new commands to be obeyed for God; there is no new lives to be lived. How about forgiveness? Isn’t it true that there is no serious forgiveness around us? Rather we prefer to cling to old alienations and old hates and old angers and old fears because we know how to manage that world. We only prefer to be forgiven, neither to offer forgiveness nor to be a part of forgiveness.
Whether we realize it or not, our prejudices are deeply ingrained. And we often forget about our perspectives, views, and convictions can be easily trapped within a limited context. Our only hope is to be open to the Spirit and to seek new understandings and fresh perspectives as we confront again and again the ways of God seen and revealed in Jesus Christ—how and where he was born; how and what Jesus has shown and exemplified by his public ministry; how and where Jesus has died; and how Jesus has resurrected.
Thanks be to the God who still shows no partiality.