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Turning Things Upside Down
by Mary Alice McGinnis
Have you ever had one of those pivotal moments in your life when something you were so certain of gets completely turned upside down?
In today’s reading, we find Peter in one of those moments.
Peter was an eyewitness of all Jesus had done as He walked the earth. He saw Jesus display His glory through various miracles. He witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Peter experienced firsthand the peace and forgiveness Jesus had to offer. He could have easily thought, “I understand it all now. God has spelled it out all plainly to me. I have nothing else to learn. God has nothing new to reveal to me.”
After the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples at Pentecost, Peter himself recounts the story of Jesus, His death and resurrection to the Jews in attendance. The text of Acts 2 states that they were “cut to the heart.”
When his compatriots ask, “What should we do?” Peter replied:
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Little did Peter know how God would reveal to him the truth of what he said next:
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)
Now, some years later, God brings Peter to the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and a Gentile - through a shared vision.
Until this time, Peter, was convinced that this message was ONLY for the Jews, and anyone who would become a Jew. As a devout Jew, to go into the house of Gentile was unthinkable.
Yet, God speaks to Peter, three times. And Peter’s response?
“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. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (Acts 10:34)
Peter recalls that God appointed Jesus as “judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42)
And “All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” (Acts 10:43)
Peter and those who were with him were “astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.” (Acts 10:45)
This caused me to ponder these questions in confession to God today:
Where is God calling me to change my way of thinking?
What does it mean to me that Jesus is Lord of ALL?
Where am I usurping the authority of Jesus as the judge of others?
Where have I discounted God’s willingness to forgive “even those” who . . . (fill in the blank).
Cup Prayer – After pondering these questions, pour out your heart out in repentance to Jesus - the Lord of ALL. Listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Begin with your hands folded together like an upside-down cup.
Pour out before God all your fears, guilt, sin and shame. Take time to be specific.
When you feel like you’ve poured out your heart, flip your hands over, folding them like an open cup. Be ready to receive from God.
Lift your hands wide toward heaven in grateful praise for the gift of His peace and forgiveness for all – even you and me!