July 10, 2022

The Process of Unlearning and Relearning

Pastor KJ Kim

Acts 11: 1-18

In today’s story, Peter was a church leader whom everyone counted on to be reliable and orthodox and safe. However, Peter’s friends questioned him in a tone of accusation. Then, today’s passage is all about what Peter responded to his friends as to why he had table fellowship with a Roman soldier, Cornelius, that seemed odd, shocking, and dangerous.

Although Peter resisted against the voice in his dream, the voice of heaven said to him, “What God has made clean you must not call unclean.” For Peter, he had been taught from a very little one, that non-Jews such as Cornelius were contamination; but now, God broke that notion and made new fellowship possible across old lines. It is no wonder that Peter was in a deep crisis.

Peter had to face the fact that what his laws told him, the best he knew, was no longer adequate. Peter had to unlearn some of his tradition, unlearn his Jewish laws to discern that the distinctions of clean and unclean and of Jew and Gentile were no longer relevant. God’s love and care for the world was large and expansive and beyond Peter’s horizons.

In many ways we want to keep things the way they used to be, to be the way the tradition said it was, and the way our mothers taught us it should be. In today’s passage, Peter exemplified what the process of unlearning and relearning may look like, the story that may lead us into God’s newness—new awareness, a new form of missions, new possibilities that are not easy for us,
and make us sometimes defensive and hesitant.

Look at the world. And think of the reality of the world where we live in these days.

The world seems to become smaller, and society seems to become more fearful and violent and destructive. We are often told to choose A or B or us and them. Well, I am sorry that I am also not able to give a clear answer about many issues; but I invite us to choose “C” when most people easily choose one side, either A or B. What I mean when I say to choose “C” is that we all are here in the name of “C,” Christ. And we all are here to be and become “C” known as Christians who want to grow Christ-like.

The reason we take another step into the new commandment given by Christ, love one another, is to get involved with what God is doing in the world. I hope and pray that we might listen to a voice that we are shaken to move into God’s newness as Peter did in today’s passage in our dreams, in our sincere and humble prayers, in our inspiring thoughts, in our deep fellowships, and in our authentic conversations.

Thanks be to God.