God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we observed another hypothetical conversation between young Kurt and old Kurt about the time when Peter was praying on the housetop of Simon the tanner and he saw the vision of ‘common and unclean’ animals, and how the voice came to him and told him to kill and eat. If you’re interested you can learn more here: Idiots and Acts Chapter 10: An Important Conversation with My Younger Self, #3–Acts 10:9-48.
Today we’ll look at how the brothers criticized Peter about eating with the Gentiles and what God had to say about it.
Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Repetition in the Bible
Today our passage begins with “the circumcision party criticized him [Peter], saying, ‘You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.'” And after that Peter repeats to his critics everything we already read in Acts chapter 10.
Most of you reading this right now already know that when something is repeated in the Bible it’s God’s way of emphasizing its importance. So, the whole point about what God wants from us in the discussion between the two Kurts about idiots is just confirmed here in Acts chapter 11. But there’s more.
Not only is Peter’s account of his encounter with the Gentiles repeated, but you’ll remember, the vision itself was repeated three times. So again we see God emphasizing something. (Acts 10:9-16)
And that something is His inclusivity.
Even to the Gentiles “God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
God doesn’t care who you are, or who you aren’t, or what you’ve done, or what you haven’t done. He is completely prepared to receive you, regardless of these things. If you’ve done bad things, horrible things, or if you’ve rejected Him, or pushed Him aside so you could pursue your own agenda, or if your character is flawed with arrogance, or selfishness, or a lack of interest in doing good, or an unhealthy interest in entertainment, He absolutely wants you to turn your heart toward him and to come back to Him.
He wants to be with you if you’re a Gentile or a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu. He wants a relationship with you if you’re an atheist.
I’m always struck by that one verse in the parable of the prodigal son where it says God’s son was still a long way off when his Father saw him, and He felt compassion on him, and He ran and embraced him and kissed him.
If He saw His son while he was still a long way off that means He was looking for His son, He was waiting for His son, He was hoping for His son, He was longing for His son.
I don’t believe it was just coincidence that the Father saw the son while he was a long way off. I think the Father was out there, at the edge of His property, every day, looking and hoping He would see His son returning.
And while His son was still a long way off, God started running. The only place in the Bible where we see God running is in this place. All the son had to do was to change his direction toward God, like a plane changing it’s heading. With his new direction toward God, while he was still a long way off God ran to meet him. It didn’t matter that His son demanded his inheritance immediately (which in that culture meant the son wished his father was dead). It didn’t matter that the son squandered all that inheritance. It didn’t matter that he sinned with prostitutes and who knows what else he may have done. (Luke 15:11-32)
God forgave and embraced the prodigal son. He forgave and embraced the Gentile centurion Cornelius and his household. He forgave and embraced Peter after Peter denied Him and called curses down upon himself.
He’ll forgive and embrace you.
He’s waiting. He’s watching. He’s hoping.
He’s longing for you.
All you have to do is change your direction. Like a pilot in a plane, change your heading and aim for God.
When He sees you, even though you’re still a long way off, He will run to you and embrace you, and celebrate your return.
And Jesus Said:
“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”Luke 15:11-32