Forgiveness over Culture
“To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”—Acts 10:43
The Apostle Peter is preaching at Cornelius’s house, telling of Jesus, telling of eye witness accounts that magnify the Judge of the living and the dead. Amazingly, there is tremendous significance in a man, like Peter, from a people like the Jews, expressing these words.
The marvel is Peter telling of how the prophets of his people, the prophets that he knew of from his youth, had their words fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Think of the mega-shift in ideology that had to happen for him to preach these words. Consider how many of the Jews responded to such a message. To say the least their response was nothing short of vehement anger and disbelief.
On the one hand it is easy to grasp their rejection of Jesus. Think of the times that your societal-cultural-norms and absolutes were challenged. Think about how hard it was to overcome deeply seated beliefs when confronted with the truth. On the other hand seeing Christ for who He is, while believing that everyone should follow Christ, is not too hard for those who already believe in him and have received forgiveness of sins through His name.
Historically there are those in the church that have responded to such Jewish disbelief without grace in anti-Semitic rhetoric. But this should never be our response. Instead we need to examine our own hearts. Have we like Peter overcome massive societal-cultural barriers in coming to faith in Christ? It shouldn’t be a surprise, but every culture places barriers in coming to Christ, even our own. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that our culture is somehow gospel friendly.
For some this passage has a lack-luster-devotional-appeal, because it doesn’t have a little word on how to make life better, or how to handle anxiety, or how to deal with anger. Even so, we need to rightly rejoice in the truth of forgiveness, but also we need to take the time to meditate upon the obvious implications of this passage.
Peter’s words demonstrate the fruit of Christ removing a person from deeply entrenched cultural religious norms. His life evidences the gospel as the power of God to save, and bring a person to right worship.