January 11, 2020

Bob Beaty – Bishop, Susquehanna Conference

Bible meditation: Acts 10:9-11:18

I’ve sat through thousands of hours of lectures, classes, and sermons. Many have been informative, yet not all have motivated me to change. While not all lessons warrant life shifts, the journey of following Jesus has been and always will be a call to be transformed, as we see in this passage.

In Acts 10-11, the apostle Peter receives counterintuitive teaching. God calls Peter to defy hundreds of years of Jewish religious practice: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). So how does Peter respond? Immediately he travels to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, someone considered “unclean” by Jews — boldly putting into motion what he’s just learned. To Cornelius and his family, Peter says, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. … 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 10:28, 34-35). Receiving the learning, Peter trusts God, giving God space to change his life; Peter then boldly acts according to the paradox.

Similarly, I’ve witnessed Jesus-followers who, allowing God to transform them — sometimes amid extreme hardship — courageously act in faith. In the church where I grew up, I watched my friends Bob and Ruby raise their mentally handicapped son. Week after week, year after year, they gave unconditional love as they cared for him. When my friend’s mom was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, I watched as she exemplified an abiding faith in Jesus through pain and, ultimately, death. As a pastor, I’ve watched couples embroiled in conflict and broken relationships fight to forgive and be reconciled, being transformed by Christ.

I marvel at the mystery of God’s redemptive power to strengthen us to do all things when we step out in faith (Phil. 4:13).

Prayer:

Father, Scripture reveals your heart for all people and relationships. I ask for the courage and perseverance to live my life in obedience to your love and truth.