In today’s Bible reading from Acts 11, we read that several people call into question Peter’s wisdom of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. As I said yesterday, Peter did something that ran contrary to everything he has known about Jew and Gentile relations. And now, he has to give an account to the circumcision party for why he ate with Gentiles. (Acts 11:3)
We will read more about the circumcision party later in our New Testament readings, but for now, I’ll just sum up the central issue. The circumcision party insisted to new converts that to be a good Christian, you had to be a good Jew, including abstaining from certain foods and (for men) being circumcised; this goes all the way back to God’s call to Abraham. (Genesis 17:10–14)
Think about your dealings with people who don’t live like you, or look like you, or talk like you, or even smell like you. Do you realize they need Jesus just as much as you? (no more and no less!) And they are no more and no less deserving of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness that you are.
If you feel that for someone needs to do something — anything — before they can come to Jesus, you really don’t understand what the Gospel is all about! The Gospel is all about what God has already done in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about it: Did you have to do anything before you could become a Christian?
Did God require you to get cleaned up or stop some behavior before He extended His grace, mercy, and love to you? No, He didn’t. And neither should we expect anyone else to do anything before becoming a Christian.
The very definition of “Grace” is that God granted His favor to undeserving people. He still does. And so should we.