There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Company. 2 He and his whole household were pious, Gentile God-worshippers. He gave generously to those in need among the Jewish people and prayed to God constantly. 3 One day at nearly three o’clock in the afternoon, he clearly saw an angel from God in a vision. The angel came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Startled, he stared at the angel and replied, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said, “Your prayers and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to God. 5 Send messengers to Joppa at once and summon a certain Simon, the one known as Peter. 6 He is a guest of Simon the tanner, whose house is near the seacoast.” 7 When the angel who was speaking to him had gone, Cornelius summoned two of his household servants along with a pious soldier from his personal staff. 8 He explained everything to them, then sent them to Joppa. 9 At noon on the following day, as their journey brought them close to the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted to eat. While others were preparing the meal, he had a visionary experience. 11 He saw heaven opened up and something like a large linen sheet being lowered to the earth by its four corners. 12 Inside the sheet were all kinds of four-legged animals, reptiles, and wild birds. 13 A voice told him, “Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!” 14 Peter exclaimed, “Absolutely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke a second time, “Never consider unclean what God has made pure.” 16 This happened three times, then the object was suddenly pulled back into heaven. 17 Peter was bewildered about the meaning of the vision. Just then, the messengers sent by Cornelius discovered the whereabouts of Simon’s house and arrived at the gate. 18 Calling out, they inquired whether the Simon known as Peter was a guest there. 19 While Peter was brooding over the vision, the Spirit interrupted him, “Look! Three people are looking for you. 20 Go downstairs. Don’t ask questions; just go with them because I have sent them.” 21 So Peter went downstairs and told them, “I’m the one you are looking for. Why have you come?” 22 They replied, “We’ve come on behalf of Cornelius, a centurion and righteous man, a God-worshipper who is well-respected by all Jewish people. A holy angel directed him to summon you to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 Peter invited them into the house as his guests. The next day he got up and went with them, together with some of the believers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Anticipating their arrival, Cornelius had gathered his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in order to honor him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Get up! Like you, I’m just a human.” 27 As they continued to talk, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them, “You all realize that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate or visit with outsiders. However, God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean. 29 For this reason, when you sent for me, I came without objection. I want to know, then, why you sent for me.” 30 Cornelius answered, “Four days ago at this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon, I was praying at home. Suddenly a man in radiant clothing stood before me. 31 He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayers, and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to him. 32 Therefore, send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, located near the seacoast.’ 33 I sent for you right away, and you were kind enough to come. Now, here we are, gathered in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has directed you to say.” 34 Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. (Acts 10:1-34, CEB)
What is forbidden? Or what is unclean?
According to the Law, there are things we can not eat. And things we can not do.
But here Peter has a vision of a sheet with all the unclean animals and is told to eat. But he says nothing unclean has ever touched my lips. And the response is that what God has made is not unclean.
As I write this devotional Arkansas just passed and then over turned a veto of the governor on HB1570 which prohibits trans people under 18 from getting medical treatments to help their gender dysphoria. And North Carolina is starting the talks on Senate Bill 514 which will do the same there. These lawmakers are calling what God has made unclean. And everything that God has made is clean.
Maybe you think this is a stretch for this set of verses, but in Peter’s day, as Peter said, “You all realize that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate or visit with outsiders.” Greeks and Jews could not associate because of the Law. But Peter was told by God that this is not the way.
We need to love everyone even if we don’t agree with them or their lifestyle. We are called to love and share God’s love, not try to make everyone like us.
Love People. Love God.