Acts chapters 10-11
God gives Peter a vision of a sheet descending from the heavens. Included in the sheet were some unclean animals. He told Peter, “what God has made clean, do not call common.”
Food is an important social and cultural symbol. What to eat, and with whom, establishes the boundaries between one community and another – especially when groups feel under pressure to conform to wider cultural norms.
Both Helen and I have enjoyed eating the different food of all traditions since arriving in the circuit. We don’t say unless it’s a Yorkshire pudding we will not be eating.
Here’s the context from our Acts reading…
Many Jewish writings from this period forbid table fellowship between Jews and Gentiles. But changing traditional boundaries is unsettling, even disturbing, as Peter discovered when he told his story in Jerusalem.
Twice his retelling makes the point that God makes no distinction between what humans call ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ (vv,9,12). And he saw the heavenly vision that conveyed this three times (v.10).
The Jesus movement gained a reputation for ‘turning the world upside down’ (Acts 17.6) – eating with tax collectors, healing on the Sabbath and so on. Hence the importance of highlighting the authority for radical change: Peter’s heavenly vision (v5-10); and then Peter that John the Baptist baptised with water, but you baptised with the Holy Spirit.
All things from God is pure.
However much human beings turn community boundaries into barriers, the Spirit of Jesus will not be hindered in overcoming the divisions these create.
John 13 offers a totally positive image of transformation, a perfected new Jerusalem and a community transformed in love and by love.
1. Each other
3. Holy Spirit
These break down barriers and builds bridges.
Jesus calls us to be loving disciples. So, I pray we continue to love people, our community, and our world.