Dreaming :: An Acts to Grind.

This post is written by Michael Kimpan, our Associate Director at The Marin Foundation.

Peter had just done the impossible.

He healed a paralyzed man simply by speaking the name of Jesus. Shortly thereafter he told a dead girl to wake up, and she did. Everyone in town believed.

Some thought Peter himself was worthy of worship. He knew he was just a man… but he also knew the words the Rabbi had spoken to him :: ‘Tend to – feed – my sheep.’

Those words played in Peter’s mind every single day. They carried a weight and responsibility that at times was as daunting as the promise – upon him the Church would be built, and the gates of hell would not prevail. Love would have the final word.

‘Feed my sheep. Tend to them.’

Peter daily searched the Hebrew Scriptures to see new ways his previous understanding of God had been deepened through knowing Jesus and his teachings.

‘You’ve heard it said, but I say to you…’

‘It is written, but…

The way Jesus taught the Scriptures – the way he expanded on and fulfilled them – was unlike anything Peter had previously imagined. The understanding everyone  had before Jesus came was like a black and white sketch that needed to be shaded in with Divine color – like a skeleton, waiting for skin.

A movement from word to flesh.

When Jesus spoke, it was evident he really knew the heart of the Father. He explained the Law and the Prophets in terms that put meat on the bones of their skeletal understanding of YHVH.

And every morning since the Spirit came – since Pentecost – Peter poured over the Scriptures to find more ‘meat.’

This particular morning his reading made Peter’s head spin. Leviticus. The abominations listed caused the Apostle’s stomach to turn with disapproval; still, he was beginning to feel the pangs of hunger. It was almost lunchtime.

He went up on the roof to pray while his host, Simon, prepared a Kosher meal.

Then all hell broke loose.

Peter saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its’ four corners. On the sheet were all kinds of four-footed animals, along with reptiles and birds.

Nearly all the animals were unclean, as Peter had just read in the Scriptures. Even the animals that weren’t forbidden were made unclean simply by being with the beasts that were forbidden. It was guilt by association.

A giant sheet descending from heaven, full of things detestable and unclean to the first century Jew. By Law. By the Scriptures.

 A voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

Peter thought it must have been a test. Jesus had tested him before, too.

‘Peter, do you love me?’ Again. And again.

Peter almost expected the Voice to speak three times. God always seemed to do things in threes when he wanted to make a point.

Nothing unclean has ever entered my lips,’ Peter replied. ‘I won’t do it. A test. Just as he thought. He was planning on passing with flying colors. After all, he’d just read Leviticus.

But the next part, Peter did not expect.

‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

Peter fell into a trance, confused. He refused to listen. The Scriptures couldn’t be any more clear – it was forbidden. Unclean. Sinful.

Then God spoke again,

‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

Predictably, this happened three times, and then the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Peter was perplexed.

Almost immediately after the sheet ascended with the forbidden meat, servants from a Gentile household came asking for Peter to come with them to stay and eat with their master.

Co-mingling with Gentiles? Also forbidden.

That’s when it clicked for the Apostle.

You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean… for God is not one to show partiality.

What had been considered unclean, was now clean. What was once unlawful, was now lawful. What had previously been prohibited, now was permitted. This opened the door for those once considered ‘out’ to be invited into the Kingdom of God.

So where does this leave us today? Is it possible that in Jesus all things are made new? Are there divisions that still ought to exist, as outlined by the Scriptures – or is there provision for all people through Christ?

Is this relevant to some theological (or even cultural, political) conversations today?

What do you think?

Connect with Michael through his thought provoking blog, hit him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Randy Gabrielse

    Good creative work Andrew. Keep challenging us to open the gospel to the world.
    Peace,
    Randy Gabrielse

  • C.J.W.

    Andrew,

    I do not want to discourage the work you are attempting to do by creating conversation between the Christian and gay communities. I do, however, question two things. First, as Robert A. J. Gagnon has pointed out, the analogy between Gentile inclusion and homosexual inclusion is not a good one. Gagnon has dealt with this analogy on many occasions and I have sensed a lack of desire to enter into conversation with him on the issue of homosexuality and Scripture. See, I think deep down, you sense that the analogy is not a good one, but don’t know how to continue ministry you have without it. There are other avenues to ministry to the gay community without using analogies that do not work. This first critique leads me to my second critique of your general position, namely the elevation of the love of God through Christ APART from the obligation to do what is spoken through Scripture, namely repenting of homosexual practice just as the heterosexual must repent and move away from addiction to pornography, adultery, and lust. Denying fleshly desires is what we are all called to do, as we learn more of what it means to walk in the way of Christ. Please do not give up on the whole spiritual narrative. Speak and live out the WHOLE truth in love.

  • pmview

    reading thru Michael’s teaching was truly inspirational to me as it pointed at key turning points when our best efforts meet the fresh revelation of the LORD’s desire to overcome past obstacles to fellowship with a-l-l the Nations, even the neighbor previously avoided. thank you for reminding us of the Father’s heart of love to include the excluded.


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