You’d think the disciples would have gotten the point after how many times Jesus got in trouble for eating with the wrong people, yet Peter was still a bit stunned when God gave him a vision to go eat with a non-Jewish man, which was considered rather taboo in his time. Indeed, Peter called such a thing “unlawful,” even though the Old Testament had no such law. In actuality, Peter was holding up an interpretation of the law, not the actual law itself.
But despite feeling uncomfortable, Peter understood the point of the vision he was given: “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” This was a theme that he was going to have to get real familiar with, because the Holy Spirit was about to push these Jewish-Christians to ground themselves in antiracism and invite all the non-Jewish people of the world into Christianity.
True antiracism takes time and effort. Yes, we have to make the concrete decision to be antiracist, but along the way we will have to continue to chisel out any racism we find in our ourselves so that we don’t treat others as “common or unclean.” For example, though Peter had just made a concrete decision to be antiracist in obedience to the vision he was given, he would still later get called out by Paul for leaving the lunch table of the Gentiles when some disapproved of how he ate with them. Rather than stand firm in his antiracism, he caved to peer pressure.
We too must stay strong and chisel at ourselves so that we remain obedient to Jesus in our antiracism and treat others with love. It might seem like this would be easy since no one in America wants to be accused of racism, but I haven’t found that to be the case. Indeed, I find it very strange how people can get annoyed by my antiracist preaching, especially since my denomination was founded upon abolitionism.
Let us chisel at ourselves and be proactive. Walk across the lunch room and sit at a table with someone different from you, be it race or socio-economic status. No one is common or unclean. Antiracism is not liberal propaganda. It’s Christian.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Acts 10:17-33 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Looking for some good books on antiracism? Click here.