What if all you had were ears to listen?
Last night at The Well, we studied Acts chapter 10. As Holland was speaking, it came to my attention how I perceived certain people, situations and things in my life as “unclean.” Just like Peter viewed the Gentiles in Acts 10, I have viewed my friends, family and even enemies at times: that they are unworthy or because they lead a different lifestyle than me, they are unclean.
The voice spoke to him a second time, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
I personally have never dug too deep into the book of Acts so working through it and hearing something like this can sit heavy on your heart. Holland gave the example of a homeless man in college and how he stunk of cigarettes and beer yet he and his roommates welcomed this homeless man into their home for a place to stay and ended up building a beautiful relationship. If they were to judge this man based on his looks or stench, they would have missed out on a great opportunity. This homeless man had been denied going into a church because of his long hair and smell, and that is not how the church should be- we are to welcome people with open arms regardless of race, smell, looks, or anything; we should be looking at their hearts and bringing their hearts to Jesus because God calls us to do that and does not show favoritism.
“Then Peter began to speak: 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.
Accepting Christ is the single most important decision you will ever make in your life and with that comes salvation, grace and a love that you can never imagine. The problem with humans is that although we are saved by grace, we are all sinners- we see the faults in people; we are judgmental and base our opinions on the mere surface of something. I’m guilty of it, and I know everyone else is too. The beauty of God is that He doesn’t see us for those things, He created each one of us perfectly and in His image and if we choose to accept Jesus into our hearts and follow Him for all of our days, we will experience that love and grace and start shedding that on other people instead of jumping to conclusions too quickly that lead to negative thoughts and attitudes. Instead we will accept people with open arms into our communities and homes, showing them the same love and grace that we have received from Jesus so unfairly because we are all sinners. I was asked a series of questions in my religion class at Belmont last fall and they have stuck with me ever since, and they are questions I will leave with each of you:
“If the only sense you had left was listening, how would you perceive people in your hearts? Would you be more welcoming? Would you actually listen to that person and not stare at their imperfections or smell something awful? What if all you could do was listen? I guarantee you would finally start hearing people for who they are and not the mask that is their skin and body, instead you will see their heart and soul, which is more beautiful than anything. In this way, you will be like God and will be able to see the perfect image He created us in.”
With all of God’s love,