Acts 11:1-18: When They Heard This
January 19, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis 41, Psalm 18:25-50, Matthew 8:1-13, Acts 11:1-18
Peter now finds himself in a tricky situation. What he has done comes to the attention of the other apostles and believers throughout Judea. As far as they can tell, Peter has broken a key tenet of God’s law. How could he do such a thing? There must have been quite a bit of upset and hurt feelings, a sense of broken trust—and Peter’s leadership must have been undermined by the perception that he had gone against God’s Word.
What should Peter do about this? Very wisely, Peter takes the following approach. He does not start with his conclusions. He does not upbraid or rail against his critics. Instead, from the very beginning he tells the whole story.
“Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story.”
What a great approach! People need context to be able to interpret actions. And as they enter into the story and realize why Peter had done what he had done, then they are able to come to the same conclusions that Peter himself had come to.
“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’”
Perhaps you are being accused of something. It can be difficult to be attacked even when you are at least somewhat in the wrong. But to be accused of evil when you have done what is good (even at personal cost) can be a sore trial indeed. Not only have you taken the risk to do what is right, but now you are being attacked by the very people you thought you could count on for support! In those circumstances, how easy it is to lash out and to fight back. But instead, follow Peter’s approach here. Tell the story, the whole story, from the beginning. Set the context. Let your critics understand why you have done what you have done so that they can enter in and be more likely to see why you came to the conclusion that you came to. Many a church would be healthy if there was fuller disclosure of the story of why something happened, what the thinking behind it was, why the leaders had done what they did, what the chain of events was that led up to the decision. People tend to “fill in the blanks” themselves, to fill in the details with rationales that may not be fair, or at least not accurate. Instead, if you are criticized, do what you can to follow Peter’s approach. Tell the whole story, starting from the beginning.
If on the other hand, you are someone who is criticizing someone else because they seem to have done what to you appears to be wrong, then have the softheartedness of these early Christians. Once they heard how God had spoken to Peter, how God had saved these people, they raised no more objections, but instead rejoiced and got behind what God was doing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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