From the Pastor

From the Pastor

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. (Acts 10:34-35)

I have used this text for sermons at interfaith services. Sometimes, even among different Christian denominations, people will make some pretense to being especially favored by God.

According to Luke, the words belong to Peter. Peter was a devout Jew called by Jesus to discipleship. Peter was committed to the Law of Moses. He kept dietary, Sabbath and other laws. That meant he could not eat certain foods so he could not dine with gentiles. For Peter, gentile meant anyone outside his group. Through a God-given vision, Peter was convinced that God does not favor any group over another. He understood that reverence for God and a desire to God’s will renders anyone acceptable to God. Tribe, nation, language, skin color, even religion are not relevant. God shows no partiality. God doesn’t play favorites. That’s Biblical.

God doesn’t play favorites with anyone. So it is nonsense for humans to claim superiority over each another. There is really only one race: human. Every person bears some resemblance to the divine. Every person also falls short of divine perfection. But each is acceptable by the grace of God. The notion of supremacy is a human construct, evidence of our imperfection. If God is completely impartial how can anyone claim higher status than another?

To claim supremacy, racially or otherwise is, Biblically speaking, sin. Claims of white supremacy are wrong. Knowing that doesn’t mean God is partial to me only. Knowing that someone is really wrong doesn’t mean I can dehumanize or abuse them, no matter how angry or offended I might be. Christians are called to seek justice. Christians are called to confront evil. Christians are not permitted to repay evil with evil. Conversion only comes when we overcome evil with good. Racism is evil. God’s justice demands that it be confronted and resisted. But Christians do not repay evil with evil. There is evil in our society. But there is more good in God. God’s people witness to that goodness. Sometimes that will mean peacefully enduring suffering for the sake of truth.