Mission and Race | The Book of Acts | 9:32-11:18 | Pastor Duane Smets
This an exegetical and expository sermon on Acts 9:32-11:18. It covers the issues of racism and division among people both inside and outside the Church. The sermon specifically looks at why this is such a tough topic and how The Gospel breaks down barriers and intends the church to be the place of unity amongst all tribes and tongues. This sermon was originally preached on June 10th, 2012 at The Resolved Church in San Diego,CA.
The Resolved Church | www.theresolved.com
(619) 393-1990 | firstname.lastname@example.org
All Rights Reserved © The Resolved Church
Permissions: you are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material provided you not alter the wording in any way and you do not charge a fee. For web posting a link to this document is preferred.
The Resolved Church
Pastor Duane Smets
June 10th, 2012
Mission & Race | Acts 9:32-11:18
I. God Prepares His People To Hear: The Subtle Softening of the Heart (9:32-43)
II. God Makes His Message Clear: The Divine Revelation Given (10:1-11:18)
A. Why It Was & Is Hard To Hear
B. How The Gospel Breaks Down All Barriers
C. Who The Church Is For
Good morning everyone. It’s good to see you all this summer Sunday morning. If you’re new today visiting The Resolved Church for the first time, we’re glad you are here. This is the portion of our service where we study God’s Word, the Bible, together.
Right now we’re in about a year long series working through the book of Acts and we have a long section to cover today so I’m not going to take time with any sort of attention getter this morning. Do I have all of your attention? Good!
Okay, so we’re working through all of Acts 9:32-11:18 today. I’ll explain why such a big section in minute but first let’s read it, declare it as God’s Word, thank Him for it and pray over it.
• Read Acts 9:32-11:18
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer
Alright. So basically we’ve got these two short healing stories…Aeneas the eight years bedridden cripple who gets healed and Dorcas who actually dies and it brought back to life…then we’ve got this long extended story about how Peter comes to preach the Gospel to a bunch of Gentiles which ends up being this huge shift in thinking and practice for The Church. And the core subject of the whole deal really is racism which God directly addresses in the story. So the title of my sermon today is simply “Mission and Race.”
Now, first off these two healing stories seem somewhat out of place. Last week in the previous section we read about how this famous anti-Christian activist named Saul came to know Jesus, was converted and then called to be God’s chosen instrument to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, which is a short way of saying, “anyone whose not a Jew.” Gentile. So we would expect right away to read about him doing that. But we don’t.
Instead, the story of Acts shifts it attention back on Peter and starts off with these healing stories. Now here’s what’s going on…I think. Paul’s not really a leader in the church yet at this point in the story, not an Apostle yet…but Peter is. His opinion and his authority and what he does matters. He’s the one to preach the Gospel to on the first day of the New Testament Church, and he’s the one to whom Jesus had said he had given the keys of the kingdom to and would be a rock upon which the Church was built (Mt 16:18-19). So Peter plays an important role…which is especially important if the Church was going to start allowing and accepting Gentiles in.
So I think the first two stories serve a dual function. One, to explain why Peter was in Joppa where the big story of Acts chapter 10 kicks off from. And two, to explain how God was already on the move opening up the hearts of other rejects and outcasts like paralytics and widows…Gentiles are just the next step.
I think these two initial stories are meant before the big story which addresses race because they serve as a preparation for this big work of God when He announces with clarity the message and direction of the Church is to take. So the two main points we’re going to look at today are, “God Prepares His People To Hear: The Subtle Softening of the Heart” and “God Makes His Message Clear: The Divine Revelation Given.”
I. God Prepares His People To Hear: The Subtle Softening of the Heart (9:32-43)
These two healing stories share four qualities:
1. Both people who experience the healing are outcasts or rejects. One’s an unclean paralytic and the other was an unclean widow.
2. Both healings are very similar to miracles Jesus performed and Peter uses almost his exact same wording (Lk 5:17-26 & Lk 8:41-56).
3. Both healings are specifically to the power of Jesus.
4. Both healings result in many people converting and becoming Christians. With Aeneas “all the residents of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord” and with Dorcas “it became known throughout all Joppa and many believed in the Lord.”
Now, the Church apparently had been multiplying according to verse 31 of chapter nine…which means churches were being planted. We’ll hear about that in upcoming chapters of Acts. Peter had just been in around Jerusalem and this is the first time we read of him venturing out of it since Jesus rose from the dead and commissioned him and the other disciples. Most scholars think at this point in Acts the Church has probably been around for about 10 years.
So Peter is on a trip checking in on the churches that had been planted. Seeing the paralytic and the residents of Lydda and Sharon must have had an impact on him. Then those in Joppa begged him to come over and seeing the widow healed and all who believed there…it had an impact on him. Look at verse 43. As a result of what happened verse 43 remarks that Peter stayed there in Joppa for many days and he stayed with a guy named Simon who was a tanner. That’s a significant detail.
It’s details like this…names and professions given that demonstrate to us that the Bible here was actually recording history not creating fiction. Sometimes you read the Bible and details like this are just thrown out and we pass over them and don’t even realize why they are there. Why does Luke, the human author of Acts, think it’s important for us to know Peter stayed at Simon the tanner’s house? He mentions it again in verse 6 of chapter ten and says, Peter is lodging at Simon’s, “a tanner whose house is by the sea.”
I remember when I was in college here in San Diego I met this girl who told me Simon the tanner was her favorite person in the Bible because one of her favorite things to do was lay out in the sun at the beach. Simon apparently was very good at that…tanning beds, the beach, he must’ve been super dark.
Well…not that kind of tanner actually. Simon was the kind of tanner who worked with the carcasses of dead animals and skinned them for a profession in order to make bags, armor and sandals. That Peter was staying with a tanner was a huge deal because tanners where considered unclean by Jews. They were forbidden in Jerusalem and Jews would not associate with tanners…especially stay in their house.
So I think what we’re reading and hearing from the text here is the subtle softening of Peter’s heart toward people whom his family tradition, heritage and religion had taught him were unacceptable and likely outside the reach of the Gospel. And in reading how Peter was slowly being softened Luke means for his reader to be softened and prepared for the big event of chapter 10.
We’re going to go there in a minute but I want us to think about this theologically for a minute…how God softens the hearts of his people to prepare them to hear His Word.
Last week we talked talked briefly about John 6:44 and how God DRAWS people unto himself. Likewise in Ezekiel 36 prior to the regenerating work of the Spirit where God gives a new heart it uses similar language saying God GATHERS his people to do this in them. And then on the other side of being a Christian there is the progressive sanctifying work of God’s Spirit where he is slowly and steadily working in us…like how Philippians 1:6 describes when it says God began a good work in us and is continually working to bring it to completion. There’s a gradual and intentional process of God at work in us in successive stages.
What I’m getting at is this thing that we as Christians know and experience where God is doing things in our hearts and our lives to prepare us for things that happen and then when they do happen we look backward and it kind of makes sense what God was up to. Sometimes things happen that don’t make sense at the time but then later we see how God was preparing us and working in us.
For example…think of the story of Joseph in the Bible. He gets thrown in a pit, sold into slavery into Egypt, then gets thrown into prison…but while in prison God grants him favor to be able to interpret the Pharaoh King’s dream and as a result he’s appointed second in command of all of Egypt which enables him to save his whole family when famine comes upon the land. Looking backward at all those events of his life, Joseph looked at them and said that many of those events were meant by men as evil unto him but God was the one orchestrating them and meant them for good (Gen 50:20).
Let me ask you…are there some things you sense God has been slowly and quietly working in you? What is God up to in you? Is there something he’s been working at teaching you? Things he may be doing in order to prepare you for something that is ahead perhaps? I think those kind of questions are so good for us for our spiritual growth…to ask what it is that it seems like God may be doing or what things it seems like you most need to grow in.
God was preparing and teaching Peter that the Gospel was for all types of peoples…that the former boundaries and separations which had existed were to change. So he brought about the healing of a paralytic, a widow and had him stay at the house of a tanner. What are some of the recent events of your life…where God has been directing your steps, teaching you some things and preparing you for what he has ahead?
It’s fitting for us to be sensitive to His Spirit that we might be like clay in his hands…flexible, pliable and willing to have him mold us and shape us how He sees fit. May God direct our steps.
Well, let’s move on and talk about how “God Makes His Message Clear: The Divine Revelation” that is given here in Acts 10 regarding race.
II. God Makes His Message Clear: The Divine Revelation Given (10:1-11:18)
There are basically four different scenes here and each annunciates the direct involvement of God to advance the mission of the Church and each address a key heart and social issue the gospel is meant to effect. In each of the four scenes something remarkable takes place.
[Some have trouble with supernatural elements of this story...yet the way they are functioning is primarily as vehicles for the message of God. And if there really is a God, and if he was actually to speak and give divine revelation wouldn’t you expect something supernatural from the all-powerful Creator God?]
First, there’s the vision of Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman centurion of the elite Italian Cohort, which means he ruled over a hundred Roman soldiers, was highly respected and wealthy. And he’s a “God-fearer.” That means he believes in and worships YHWH, the God of the Bible but that he had not fully committed to Judaism as proselyte.
Cornelius is praying and he’s sees some sort of vision. The way the text tells the story is as if he actually sees it with his eyes, not just in his mind because it says he sees an angel and he is filled with terror. Interestingly all that happens in this vision is a direction from the angel for Cornelius to go meet up with Peter and that’s it. The angel doesn’t preach the Gospel to him but sends him to Peter for that. God is just preparing Cornelius as he had been preparing Peter.
The next vision is Peter’s and it’s a little more involved. Like Cornelius, he’s praying and like Cornelius he sees something. Our translation calls it a “trance”…the word is like an out of body experience and he sees “heaven opened up.”
The last time someone saw “heaven opened up” in Acts was Stephen and it caused a huge shift to take place in the Church spawning the scattering of the Church to take the Gospel outside Jerusalem. At that point God was pushing the Church to fulfill her mission and here in Acts 10 heaven is opened up and God is doing pushing the Church again to fulfill her mission to take the Gospel to all the peoples of the earth.
What Peter sees is a sheet, probably something like a boat sail and in it God is sending all three of the groupings of animals He created in Genesis down to the earth. So first there is this clear picture of God giving all the animals to the peoples of the earth.
But there’s not just a picture there’s a voice to explain the picture to make sure it’s understood and interpreted right…God cares that his Word is rightly understood and correctly interpreted, it’s just up to us to have it mean whatever we want to. So there a voice which interprets the vision and the voice is God’s, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Peter doesn’t like that idea, which we’ll talk about and in response the voice of God becomes even more curt rebuking him saying, “What God has made clean do not call common.” And apparently they go back and forth like that three times.
That’s the second scene. Now the third scene…just as Peter’s vision ends Cornelius’s men show up at the door looking for him, which Peter takes as a sign from God so he goes with them the next day to meet Cornelius and by this point Peter has understood the full implication of this vision so he goes ahead and preaches the Gospel to Cornelius, his guards, family and friends…to all those who were there. The result is they all come to faith in Jesus, receive the Holy Spirit and are baptized.
The fourth scene is when Peter goes back to Jerusalem and reports what happened to the other leaders of the Church. At first they have difficulty with it but once they hear the clear direction of God they come to an official church-wide understanding of the Gospel that it is also for Gentiles that they too may receive life…which from here out in the book of Acts becomes part of the core vision and mission of the Church, to reach Gentiles with the Gospel.
Four scenes. Four distinct points in which God was uniquely working in individuals and events to bring the Church to a clearer understanding of the Gospel and the mission He has given the Church with it. I’m praying that today, that through this story we get a clearer understanding of the Gospel and the mission he has called us to as a church.
In order for us to get there it’s super important for us to hear why this was such a big deal back then and why it’s still hard for us now…”Why It Was & Is Hard To Hear.”
A. Why It Was & Is Hard To Hear
Sometimes the Bible, because it was written so long ago uses language and terms that had clear meaning and understanding for everyone when it was first written which make very little sense to us today. For example, if I say I’m stoked about something…everyone here in San Diego gets what I mean…if you’re new to San Diego, “stoked” is a surfer’s word, at least I’m gonna say it is, and it’s used to describe a feeling of being thrilled…like when you get good waves. Now if I were talking to people who lived 2,000 years ago and I tell them I’m stoked they are most likely going to have no clue to what I’m talking about.
The word “Gentile” is like that for us. We don’t use it in our English language today and thus it doesn’t carry a lot of weight or meaning for us…BUT, it is a very, very loaded word. A Gentile was anyone who was not born as a Jew. So you’ve got Jews and then you’ve got all other races of the world and they are all Gentiles. And Jews had developed a severe sense of racial and religious pride to the point that they looked down upon and despised Gentiles.
This will help you get a sense of it. The ancient Jewish document titled, “The Book of Jubilees” says this, “Separate yourself from the Gentiles, and do not eat with them and do not perform deeds like theirs. And do not become associates of theirs. Because their deeds are defiled and all their ways are contaminated and despicable, and abominable (Jub 22:16).”
You see Jews despised Gentiles. They often called them “dogs” and would barely speak with them much less eat a meal with them or enter their homes. Both Gentiles and their food was seen as unclean…dirty, profane, and defiled.
So that’s the first big historical and cultural background piece that you have to get for understanding why this story we’re looking at today is so huge. There was deep seated racism inset within the culture of first century Judaism to which Peter and most all The Church at this point belonged to or was born into.
Now, there’s a second big historical and cultural background piece you have to get for understanding why this story and what happened was so big and that is where this racism came from. Jews got their name from Judah, whose great grandfather was Abraham.
There was nothing special about Abraham when he came to know God. He wasn’t born a Jew. God just showed up in his life when he was old and said that from his family bloodline God would create special people who would uniquely know and worship Him as the one true God and that through these people all different peoples of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3).
Now what happened was that over time the Jews became very proud of their being selected by God to be his special people and they missed and forgot about that second part of their calling and election…that through them all the different families of the earth were to receive God’s blessing. Misunderstanding God’s election and predestination his people is a major backdrop to getting the significance of Peter seeing this sheet and the Holy Spirit falling upon the Gentiles here in Acts 10.
The Jews over the years had become protective and proud of their heritage at the expense of loving and reaching out to others with the worship and knowledge of God. They missed the purpose of their selection and the promise of God given unto them…to the point that rather than inviting other races and nations to their tables they refused to eat with them and instead call them dogs.
I mean you have to get your head around this. Peter had hardly associated with Gentiles his entire life. The food they ate had never touched his lips. This racism didn’t happen over night, it was all he knew and had all his parents and his parents before them knew. It was deeply inset in his identity and the way that he saw the world and this wasn’t just Peter but the whole Church at the time.
Probably the closest we can get to understanding this is to reflect on what it was like here in our own country prior to the civil rights movement not even fifty years ago addressing the deep division between blacks and whites. African Americans were required by law to go to different schools, drink from different drinking fountains, go to separate swimming pools, go to different stores and be confined to love only in certain parts of town.
Just ten years before I was born in 1968 a man only five years older than I am now had his face blown off with a .30 caliber rifle for attempting to address how the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ demands for such dividing walls to be abolished between races. Let me read you part of one of what can only properly be called his “sermons.”
“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society;
. . . when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she’s told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people;
. . . when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “Nigger,” your middle name becomes “Boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”;
. . . when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
There was a time when the church was very powerful—in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. . . . But the judgment of God is upon the church [today] as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century.”
Those are the words of the late Martin Luther King Jr. only 43 years ago in addressing the state of our own country. We need to hear those words and remember from where we have come and the sense of division and difference that we as human beings are so prone to develop.
It was an issue of the first century church and continues to be an issue today. While the laws of our land no longer require segregation racism is alive and well. If you go to a high school cafeteria at lunch time you will find the whites in one corner, the blacks in another, asians in one place and mexicans in the other. We’ve got black churches, asian churches and hispanic churches. And if we thought having a black president was going to change things it hasn’t.
I called up a friend of mine this week who is a minority just to ask him if he thought racism was still alive in our country and what he had experienced of it. He told me there are certain stores he will walk into and be stared down and turned away as if he should not be there. Once he was pulled over and taken outside of his vehicle and interrogated by a police officer merely for not having a front license plate. All merely because of the color of his skin.
If we look on the foreign seen you can read the intense despise of Iranians and Israelis for one another, South Koreans and North Koreans, and just this week…the opening of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament has been plagued with the chanting of racial slurs between Russians and Czech’s. Racism is alive and well.
But the problem goes deeper than race doesn’t it? It’s not just ones race or color of their skin that divides is it? It can often be attached to one’s country, one’s sex, one’s wealth or one’s hobby or interest like music or tattoos or even things like whether or not one likes certain styles of dress or decor or whether they eat meat or are vegans…on and on are all these things that than can divide.
It’s almost like our human hearts are especially good at finding out what makes us unique and then using that as a base for who and what kinds of people we will associate with or befriend. It really boils down to a deep seated love for ourselves rather than others. It’s a heart problem deep within us. We love ourselves. We tend to think everyone should be like us and we have a hard time being around or really getting to know those who are unlike us.
The reasons why the message and vision of the Gospel was so hard for Peter, ”By no means Lord…(not the) unclean.” The reasons why the message and vision of the Gospel was so hard for the Church leaders who “criticized” Peter for his acceptance of God’s message. Those reasons are the same reasons why hearing about all these different forms of self-ism is so hard for us to hear. We never want to hear about what is wrong with us…so we’re often just blind to it.
I started out the conversation with my friend on the phone this week by saying, “I know I have racist tendencies I am probably unaware of and I want to ask you some questions to help me see it.” Some of the things he said were hard to hear…hard to hear about my life, our friendship and even about our church.
The only answer, the only solution really for our hearts…which is where all this comes from…is the Gospel. No matter how many laws are changed or made it cannot change the self-loving law of the human heart. Only the Gospel can do that. So let’s look at our next point, “How The Gospel Breaks Down All Barriers.”
B. How The Gospel Breaks Down All Barriers
In verses 34-43 Peter preaches the Gospel. He starts out in verse 34 by saying, “God shows no partiality, but in every nation ANYONE who fears him” is acceptable. Then he gives five main points as reasons why.
1. Jesus came and preached peace and by….verse 38, “doing good and healing ALL who were oppressed.”
2. Jews put him to death by hanging him on a tree…they crucified him.
3. God raised him up on the third day.
4. After his resurrection, Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to all peoples. Do you guys remember his words? Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all ethne!” Make disciples of all ethnicities.
5. Then Peter’s fifth and final point, verse 43, “EVERYONE who believes in him (in Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
So Peter makes it clear that the Gospel is for everyone, anyone who fears God and believes in Jesus…thus including Gentiles. What may not be clear just on the surface is how the Gospel actually breaks down dividing barriers.
Jesus in his humanness was born a Jew. But Jesus was more than human and more than just a Jew…he was also God and was a perfect man…the epitome of what a man should be, he often called himself the “son of man.” And he proved it by not showing partiality in his ministry but ministering to all who were oppressed.
Yet he was put to death on a tree as if he were cursed by God for sinfully showing partiality and prejudice. Jesus, the one person who never gave into self-ism but instead gave his life away for others was killed as a criminal.
But God raised him from the dead so that ALL who come to see that they are sinners in need of forgiveness might turn to him and be cleansed, raised and made new. You see, in Mark 7 Jesus says it is not any kind of outward thing that defiles a man but it is his heart from which all sin comes. It’s not the exterior marks of race or sex which make one inferior and unholy before God it’s the spiritual condition of the heart. And the only way the heart gets changed is by having someone pay the price for its sins so that a new heart can be given…the gift of forgiveness.
Josh preached from Ephesians 2 a couple weeks ago which so brightly boasts of this unique work of the Gopsel. Just listen to verses 11-16 again,
“11 Remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Eph 2:11-16).
Through Jesus God deals with the sin that separates us from him…making peace and then because of that peace any dividing walls that our hearts set up gets torn down because love is born for one another in our hearts. And this love doesn’t make any kind of race distinction like Gentile, or black or white or Mexican or Asian or rich or poor or any other kind of distinction. As Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The Gospel is the only answer for the deep seated love of self that our hearts are born into. We need Jesus.
I want to say it bluntly so it will hopefully jar you and I.
Some of you are racist and you need to see it. Is there ANY type of person that you would just refuse to befriend? Or think even beyond race…is there any type of person you would just not have a meal with or have into your home? Ask yourselves that question and there you will find the form of racism that is lodged in your heart.
We as the Church must hear and heed the call of the God who shows no partiality and means through Jesus to bless all the various peoples of the world. That is how God means the Church to be and what she will one day fully be. So, briefly I just want point out two verses for us in our last point for today, “Who The Church Is For.”
C. Who The Church Is For
Who is the Church for? Everyone. All types of people. Young, old, rich, poor, Jews and all kinds of Gentiles.
First verse. Romans 1:16 The Gospel “…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” More than half of the whole book of Romans is a message meant to say Jews and Gentiles get along and be the church together. It teaches that Jews and Gentiles are both sinners and both need to be and can be justified before God through faith in Christ.
Second verse. Revelation 7:9. In it John sees the future of the church and says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. All tribes! All peoples! All languages! All together as the church before the throne of God worshipping the Lamb, Christ Jesus who was slain! This is how the Church will be and it’s the church we need to be working on being now!
The Church of God is meant to be a multi-ethnic church…there is no way around it. People from every tribe and tongue, Jews and all kinds of Gentiles all together worshipping our great God and savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. It my prayer that God will continue to enable The Resolved Church to reach all the different people groups of our city and that we can be one church together.
In order for that to happen we have to have the Gospel challenge and change our hearts so that we are more welcoming to those who may not be like us. May he do it in us!
To conclude today I simply want to call our attention to the table of our Lord. Each week we who believe and who have turned from sin come forward tear off a piece of bread and dip it in wine and then we eat it. The bread is element of Jesus’ body and the wine that of His blood.
The passage I read earlier from Ephesians 2 says it was his blood and body on the cross that tore down the wall of hostility and made peace…peace with God and with one another. Today before you come forward ask God to help you see where there may be hostility in your heart, where there may be areas of pride or resentment to other types of people, ask Jesus to change your heart and give you his…the peace which welcomes all kinds of others in.
Jesus died to save us and change us and send us on mission with His great Gospel that is for all peoples. So come forward in repentance of self-centeredness and in willingness to be used as His vessel for the Gospel here in San Diego and beyond.