Unclean Blankets

May 21, 2011
We all have visions of unclean blankets.
In Acts 10:1-11, Cornelius (a Gentile), while praying devoutly to God, has a vision from God telling him to send for Peter.
Peter (a Jew), while praying devoutly to God (who he does recognize as Jesus) has a vision from God of a blanket descending from Heaven with clean and unclean animals on it. God tells Peter, “Kill and eat.” Peter denies God (as Peter does) and tells God he can’t because some of the animals are unclean or common. God insists three times that Peter kill and eat but Peter refuses each time. God responds telling Peter not to call what he has made clean unclean or common. The blanket ascends back into Heaven.
At that moment, Cornelius’ men show up and fetch Peter. Peter talks to Cornelius and identifies the God that Cornelius has been worshipping all along as Jesus. A God of peace who is worthy or fear, respect, and love. He preaches Jesus as good news to the world. While this is happening, the Holy Spirit descends on them and Cornelius and his men are immediately baptized.
According to chapter 11, Peter returns to his church, not with praise or high fives or “Hallelujah’s” from his fellow Christ-followers, but criticism. The unclean animals on the blanket represented the Gentiles, and the clean animals were the Jews. Jews did not eat with Gentiles. The members of Peter’s church were actually upset with that Peter ate with someone who wasn’t a Jew. Wow. Really? A whole other group of people, a whole other race just met Jesus and they’re concerned that he ate with a Gentile? Peter (the Jew) proceeded to tell them all that God has done in his dinner with Cornelius (the Gentile) and how him and his men had the Holy Spirit descend on them. The critics fell silent and then they glorified God. They were happy that Gentiles can now receive salvation along with them!

How any times do we avoid the unclean blankets in life? It seems wrong, it’s not how we do things, it’s not tradition, it’s not orthodox, it’s against our laws and regulations, our status, our social hierarchy, and anything else that seems conventional. We avoid things because it seems to break all social, religious, economic, political, and theological boundaries.
Sometimes what we call unclean and common, God has made clean and
uncommon.
Sometimes what we think may be wrong, God is trying to show us that it is exactly right, that it is exactly how God intended it to be.
What if Peter never went with the men to Cornelius? The first Gentile to believe would have never believed. The news may not have spread. You and I now may not even be discussing Jesus as anything more than a historic, middle eastern figure like Muhammad.
Sometimes we have to do what may feel wrong in order to do what God has made right.
You may encounter criticism for it. People may push back telling you not to go that direction, do those certain things, associate with certain people, believe certain beliefs, eat with a Gentile, if you will. All you can do then is tell of the great things God has done through your decisions and beliefs and actions to silence them for a moment and then begin to glorify God. How can someone deny something that is proclaiming the love and peace and restoration of all things in Jesus?
Let us not be afraid of the unclean blankets that we may encounter in life, and let us do what God calls us to do, even if it may not seem right at first.





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