Our Welcoming God
God does not show favoritism. Acts 10:34
Our church meets in an old elementary school, one that closed in 1958 rather than obey a US court order to integrate (the act of having African-American students attend schools previously attended by only Caucasian students). The following year, the school reopened and Elva, now a member of our church, was one of those black students who were thrust into a white world. “I was taken out of my safe community, with teachers who were part of our life,” Elva recalls, “and placed in a scary environment in a class with only one other black student.” Elva suffered because she was different, but she became a woman of courage, faith, and forgiveness.
Her witness is profound because of how much evil she endured at the hands of some members of a society that denied the truth that every human being, regardless of race or heritage, is loved by God. Some members of the early church struggled with this same truth, believing that certain people were, by birth, loved by God while others were rejected. After receiving a divine vision, however, Peter stunned everyone who would listen with this astounding revelation: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34–35).
God opens His arms wide to extend love to everyone. May we do the same in His power.
Consider your neighbourhood, your family, and your social sphere. Where do you find a temptation to exclude others? Why?
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The words “show favoritism” in Acts 10:34 are translated from the Greek prosopoleptes, a word which means to receive or show regard for someone because of rank, status, beauty, or popularity. This word is a combination of prosopon, which means “face” or “person”; and lambano, “to lay hold of.” Partiality (showing favoritism) does not characterize God, as we see in these verses: “As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism” (Galatians 2:6); “Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him” (Ephesians 6:9). Neither should favoritism characterize the followers of Jesus, as James 2:1 reminds us: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”