34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
In the book of Acts we read the word “Christian” for the first time. Prior to that we were called “People of The Way”. I rather like that.
Acts is a guidebook for becoming a disciple of Jesus, so it’s one of the books that needs to be read in its entirety. To understand the above verses, we must read what comes before, so that we have some context. The passages leading into verses 34-38 relay the story of Cornelius, a Roman centurion who with his entire family was a baptized Christian. Rome was the enemy of the chosen people of God and yet, here is a high-ranking Roman official following the Messiah. Cornelius had a dream in which God spoke to him. “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4). Then He told Cornelius to go find Peter. Peter, meanwhile, was given a vision:
11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” 15 The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”
"I am not identified by my successes or my failures. I am [a] child of God. And I am His beloved."
Peter considered certain things and people unclean; he was simply obeying Jewish law and under the law, Romans were “unclean”. Perhaps Peter, like most of us, wanted to be special; to be set apart. And to be special, others had to be… not special. We still do it with our myriad of denominations and practices as Christians. God put Cornelius in Peter’s life to show Him that the Body of Christ is made up of all peoples because God created us for Himself and extends His grace to each and every one of us, way beyond the Jewish nation. Cornelius had been made clean in God’s eyes.
Our identity is in Jesus Christ, not in our race or colour, or in our job, or position in society. I am not identified by my successes or my failures. I am Judy, child of God. And I am His beloved. Peter and Cornelius were as different as two people could be, but they had one thing, the most important thing, in common. They loved Jesus.