And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.-Acts 10:28-29
Peter, an apostle of Jesus and a Jew by birth, had a hard time shedding his Old Covenant clothes. He had spent 3 years in the physical presence of Jesus, watching him love in a way that was unexpected. After Jesus' ascension, Peter was foundational to the growth of the early church, just as Jesus had said he would be, yet it was difficult for him to set aside his old ways.
Acts 10 tells the story of a Roman Centurion, Cornelius, who gave alms and prayed to God daily. An angel appeared to him and told him that his prayers had been answered and that he should seek out Peter, so he sent men to seek him.
At the time, Peter was living in Joppa, presenting the gospel of grace to the Jewish people, and otherwise seeking to uphold the law. Before the arrival of Cornelius's men, Peter was given a vision, repeated 3 times. He was hungry and God told him to kill and eat a host of unclean animals. Peter resisted, but God insisted that Peter should not call common or unclean what God has called clean.
After seeing this vision, men arrive and Peter accompanies them to the home of Cornelius, where he had gathered many of his friends. And Peter said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit with anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).
Pay attention to the time course. Peter had already spent years with Jesus. He had heard the gospel of grace. Yet, he clung to his old ways. God continued to challenge him to grow and develop gospel lenses. In this case, he was challenged to set aside the law that said he should not associate with those outside of his club and to love without objection.
Do you ever find yourself acting like Peter? Do you ever find yourself reluctant to approach certain people because they are "common or unclean"? Do you tend to focus on the people who are like you but avoid showing love to those who are not? Like Peter, Christ's love challenges us to move toward others with his love, even if we don't think they fit the mold.