Mary McLeod Bethune was the 15th of 17 children, the first of her parent’s children born out of slavery. Mary attended Moody Bible Institute in 1895, where she prepared for missionary service to Africa. Unfortunately, her application was denied by a mission board because of her race. In the face of this devastating news, the young woman graciously replied, “I am so glad He has counted me worthy to lay this Great Command upon my heart. I am so glad He did not designate any particular color to go.” Refusing to be discouraged, Bethune lived a life devoted to God’s service. She founded a school/college and provided counsel on race issues to several United States Presidents. Her life glorified God!
Our text today speaks to one of the earliest encounters Christians faced when dealing with race and diversity. Peter and Cornelius were about as different as could be. One was Jewish, the other Gentile. Peter most likely grew up lower to middle class, experiencing Jewish foods and customs.
Cornelius most likely grew up wealthy (Acts 10:1–2). However, God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, purposely brought the unlikely pair together (vv. 30–33), teaching them that God shows no partiality (v. 34).
There was a time when Peter would have wanted nothing to do with Cornelius or his family and friends (vv. 27–29). Associating with a Gentile was against Jewish law (v. 28). All he would have seen was their differences. God was the reason the two came together. Peter realized that if God accepts anyone without exception, he too should accept and love them as well (vv. 34–35). God accepts people from “every nation” (v. 35). He wanted Peter (and us) to take off the faulty human lens of viewing the world and to see people as He does.
>> God wants us to get out of our comfort zone and love those with whom we normally wouldn’t connect. Be intentional this week and do something that will give you a different perspective.