God’s voice said to him (Peter) again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” (Acts 10:15)
Have you ever sensed that God wanted you to do something that you didn’t want to do? In the verse above, God is instructing Peter to eat foods that have been on the Jewish “no eat” list due to kosher laws. You’ll notice that this was the second time (Peter has already said “no” once). Read the whole text and you’ll see that God has to ask/press Peter a third time before Peter finally relinquished and obeyed God’s instructions.
Probably most of us have had times in our lives when we sensed God wanting us to do or say something but we have resisted. We may have been challenged by it (the instruction ran counter to our beliefs or prejudices). We may have been nervous or afraid to do it – the risk of failure or embarrassment seemed too high.
In Peter’s case, God was telling Peter to do something that directly conflicted with something God had told the people to do in an earlier time. Peter was more attached to the previous direction than he was to the God who had authored it. Now, talking to the same God, Peter tries to pull rank on God and basically say, “But you said…” God, who is a living God and not just one who spoke long ago, persists in calling Peter to think and act in a new way. Eventually God wins (doesn’t it usually work out that way in the long run?). Peter is transformed. As a result, Peter can then meet and eat with people who God wants to reach but with whom Peter would never have associated with prior to this encounter with God.
All of us need to know the values and traditions from which we have come and which shape and define us a community of faith. We need to be able to honor them and discuss them as gifts received from faithful people who have gone before us. But it is also important to remember that God is a living God who continues to work and move in our world and in our lives. Knowing the past is no substitute for relating to God in the present. God is probably trying to call each of us to something that we would never think of on our own. We might even be resistant like Peter. But Peter’s transformation led to the kind of church that would receive the likes of you and I. It makes you wonder: if God could change something about us, who could we better reach with the love of Christ?