“Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis. It makes no difference what race of people one belongs to. If they show deep reverence for God, and are committed to doing what’s right, they are acceptable before him.” — Acts 10:34-35 (TPT).
Mary McLeod Bethune was the 15th of 17 children, the first of her parent’s children born out of slavery. Mary attended Moody Bible Institute in 1895, where she prepared for missionary service to Africa. Unfortunately, her application was denied by a mission board because of her race. In the face of this devastating news, the young woman graciously replied, “I am so glad He has counted me worthy to lay this Great Command upon my heart. I am so glad He did not designate any particular color to go.” Refusing to be discouraged, she overcame all the prejudices of the day and lived a life devoted to God’s service.
The Acts 10 passage speaks to an encounter dealing with race and diversity. It centered around an encounter between Peter and a Roman Centurion named Cornelius ( Acts 10: 1-33) Peter and Cornelius were two completely different people. One was Jewish, the other Gentile. Peter most likely grew up lower to middle class, experiencing Jewish foods and customs.
Cornelius most likely grew up wealthy (Acts 10:1–2). However, God purposely brought the unlikely pair together (vv. 30–33), teaching them that God shows no partiality. (v. 34) There are many verses that talk about God being impartial and not playing favorites. Some of them include: Mark 12:14, “…we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites…” Romans 2:11 says, “For God does not show favoritism.” Ephesians 6:9, “…you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.” And Galatians 2:6 says, “…for God has no favorites.”
There was a time when Peter would have wanted nothing to do with Cornelius or his family and friends (vv. 27–29). Associating with a Gentile was against Jewish law (v. 28). He saw the differences, God did not. God was the reason the two met. Peter realized that if God accepts anyone without exception, he too should accept and love them as well (vv. 34–35). God accepts people from “every nation” (v. 35). He wanted Peter and each of us to stop looking at people through human eyes and see them as He does.
God wants us to get out of our comfort zone and love those with whom we normally wouldn’t connect. No matter what your position in life, no matter what your race or the amount of your possessions, God opens His kingdom to everyone. God does not show favoritism. And neither should we.
- It is relatively easy to say that we believe in racial reconciliation. If you had to prove it with more than words, what would you claim as evidence in your life that goes beyond intellectual belief?
- What can you do this week to be impartial?