“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.'” Acts11:1-4
It’s interesting that the early believers were more focused on the fact that Peter hung out and had dinner with Gentiles (those who weren’t of Jewish lineage). Never mind that fact that a group of people just heard the Good News of Jesus and were baptized with the Spirit. Never mind the fact that a group of people who were in opposition to God now were on the move toward a more godly life. Never mind the fact that God’s love transcended human callousness.
Regardless of who they were, this group of people that Peter embraced were no longer on the road of destruction. They were headed toward eternal life.
Arrogance and the sense of entitlement have a strange way of dictating who’s part of the “in” crowd and who’s not. They also have a way of giving the “in” crowd the idea that there ought to be a standard in which one should live before they’re even considered to be included. What’s even more heart shattering is knowing that the early Jewish community who followed the Ways of Jesus truly believed only Jews could be saved. Perhaps being oppressed by Roman rule (and the ruling empires before Rome) gave them the right to feel this way, but the irony is the early Jews, now saved by the grace of Jesus, began to take on the oppressing mentality. They lived in such a way that communicated salvation was only for the Jews. They went from being oppressed to somewhat playing the role of heavenly oppressor, setting a standard of who could be saved…of who could enter the inner courts of the King. The early faith community, much like the ruling empire did in creating divisions between royalty/upperclass and the commoners, were being just as divisive.
And so Peter comes in to explain that salvation is truly for all.
We find this dynamic similar in our Christian culture. As “Gentiles”, now saved by the grace of Jesus, we’ve created a faith experience that unspokenly requires others to conform to “our” way of life in order to be welcomed into our communities. Or, on the other spectrum, if we’re found milling around non-Christians at the bar or having authentic friendships with Muslims or with the gay and lesbian community, our own criticizes us for being compromising. Never mind the fact that, perhaps, through our relationships with those not “conformed” to the Christian culture, our non-believing friends are possibly getting a first hand glimpse of the love of Jesus and the reality of His saving grace because of our willingness to put action to our faith. Arrogance and the sense of entitlement have a strange way of dictating who’s part of the “in” crowd of Christianity and who’s not. What’s even more heart shattering is the sense of entitlement paralyzes many Christians from allowing God to interrupt their lives to authentically show His love to others.
Can you imagine how many more people would be willing to hear the message of Jesus if we put our arrogance and sense of entitlement aside?
I’d venture to say that, if we would put our Christian arrogance and our sense of entitlement aside, we’d truly experience the Kingdom here on Earth.