Of the many stories in this week’s readings, I want to focus on one in chapter 11. The believers in Judea heard that the Gentiles accepted the word of God and the believers were furious with Peter for teaching the Gentiles about Jesus. “So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”
Traditions are hard to undo. To the Jews, being around and friendly with Gentiles was a tradition that they believed God had ordained. They were not of the tribes of Abraham, Jacob and so on. One can see how the new converts were not pleased with Peter for being in relationship with nonbelievers. But when Peter told his story of how his decision came to be, they understood.
How quick we are to make judgments because of inbred data imbedded for years and years. Our blanket judgments run deep and it is hard to see things differently. In order to change one must have courage to see the side of what we were taught over the years. Peter first reveals a vision and then tells a story of who Jesus was for him and the world.
The short of it is, Peter shares his story of Jesus and the offering of Jesus. He builds on this relationship and suddenly a different understanding begins to take shape. When we tell our first-hand story it can change even old traditions into something different and life-giving.
When have your long-held beliefs been challenged? Was it easy to shift your thoughts or did you ignore a different viewpoint? If you changed your opinion, what was that like? Did others see you differently? Did you lose friends?