April 15, 2014

God shows no partiality

By Bill Born, VP of student life and dean of students
SCRIPTURE: Acts 10:34-43 (NRSV)

God shows no partiality, no favoritism. What a powerful statement.

These nine verses in Acts proclaim God’s “good news,” God’s “salvation” to all. In just a few verses Peter proclaims Jesus as Lord of all, as God’s anointed who died on a cross and was raised from the dead. It wasn’t enough for select witnesses to personally see the resurrected Jesus, but God commanded them to testify and preach to all, as the prophets many years earlier testified of this Lord.

God’s grace across history had come full circle, an ever-widening circle, from Jews and Gentiles alike. What does that mean for us today?

As was the case then, God’s grace is not only for us to claim as our own. It’s for us to proclaim to others.

How am I doing on that front, on the front of proclaiming God’s grace to others? Am I selective in terms of whom I proclaim to? Do I consider my understanding of God’s grace unique, better informed? Do I proclaim it with certain expectations, with select “strings attached?”

I can imagine it was difficult for those select witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection to openly share God’s love without some sense of privilege, recipients of a special dispensation. And yet, we read ahead of this passage of the angels coming to Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian regiment, a righteous and God-fearing man who God acknowledges for his prayers and gifts to the poor. And following, we read of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles just as it was poured out on Peter and his fellow Apostles. God’s grace is God’s to dispense, and it is for all.

Many years ago I was introduced to the phrase “circles of influence.” It was in the context of institutional marketing as a part of my work here at Goshen College. Allow me to offer a bit more depth to the phrase. As a follower of Jesus and recipient of God’s grace, I need to be aware of, and intentional in broadening my circles of influence, circles beyond my comfort zone. Circles extending up, down, to the left and to the right. And may it be in those circles that God chooses to use me to proclaim and extend God’s grace, freely.

SCRIPTURE: Acts 10:34-43 (NRSV)

Gentiles Hear the Good News
Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’




Comments (4)

  1. Thanks, Bro. Born — by the way, have you seen the cover story of the most
    recent _Sojourners_ magazine — “Did Jesus pray to Allah?” Very provocative,
    but a useful discussion by a doctoral student at Yale and his professor.

    Norm Morford April 15, 2014 |
  2. No partiality, no favoritism and God’s grace encircling all is a beautiful and powerful message. Thanks for your words, Bill.

    Betty April 15, 2014 |
  3. Amen and Amen

    Ellie April 15, 2014 |
  4. Thanks, Bill, for the challenge and good reminder. Wilma

    Wilma Shank April 15, 2014 |