Freedom From Prejudice

Examining The Question, "How Can We Stop Prejudice?".

Ross Sawyers
Sep 11, 2022    49m
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This week we examine the question, "How can we stop prejudice?". The Gospel is for everyone, every nation, and every ethnicity, but our prejudices can affect who we are willing to share the Good News of Jesus with. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:10] It's been a fantastic morning of worship. I've tried in the previous two services to figure out how I was going to talk about the Aggies. I tried just owning it in the first one and thought, I can't think of anything very, very good to say. And then the second one, I tried a smart aleck comment. I'm just going to man up and own it, it was a really bad day, and move on, if that's okay.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:35] What I'd rather do is talk about Trinity High School today. And over the last few weeks, we've been thinking about the different high schools in our area and what God is doing on those campuses through the students that are at 121. And we acknowledge that God is working through students from all kinds of churches that are following Christ on our campuses and are grateful that there's a much larger work going on. But we just want to at least highlight what God is doing through ours. And today, Trinity High School is where we'd like to land and think about, and I've just been speaking of different students. The Scripture says that we can speak praises of other people. Our own mouths are not to speak our own praise, but we can honor and build up others in what God is doing in and through them, and so these students are at Trinity High School.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:30] Grant Tool is one of the students there, he loves talking to his peers and to students about his faith and about his church. He especially enjoys talking to those who aren't familiar with faith and the opportunity just to explain to them this is what it means to know Jesus and to be a part of a church. He's also involved in the tech media at 121, he serves faithfully in that realm, in another leadership roles.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:04] Grant Miller is another student at Trinity High School. He is described as a gentle warrior; he plays soccer and baseball at Trinity. He leads by example, seeks to build up others, loves to seek out the vulnerable and those who are searching for their identity, and how he might be a way of strength and help for them. He's served a variety of 121 campus activities as well. And we've talked about social media quite a bit over the last several weeks in positive ways we can use that, and one thing Grant does is he has a Scripture verse on his phone lockscreen that's a constant reminder, and right now on that screen is Mark 12:31 about loving our neighbor. And again, just a great way to think about on our devices how we can be reminded of the Scriptures and what God's doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:02] Claire Payne is another one of our students there. She's active in the choir at Trinity. And I love this, you know, the different organizations where you can sponsor children in other countries, and it really just gives them a shot at an education and at a spiritual level as well. And Claire sponsors a child in Haiti and then annually raises money to support the child by, as this was written, baking amazing cake balls. So if you're interested in some of those as the holidays approach, let me know, I'll get you to her.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:38] Andrew Pittman is the fourth one I'll highlight today. He is musically talented, he serves at 121 in audiovisual realm with us again with our children, he plays tennis, he's in percussion. And in every realm where he, he is standing firm in his faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:57] And one of the cool things about these different students, too, is their parents who are leading the way for them and setting that heritage for them as followers of Christ. One of the things I want to note about Trinity High School today, there are 2690 students at Trinity, and it's an incredibly diverse high school, there's 29% Hispanic, Latino, 11% Asian, 26% black, 25% white, 3% Pacific Islander, 1% American Indian, Alaskan native, and then two or more races, 5%. And I wanted to highlight the diversity on their campus for a couple of reasons. One, on a campus that is diverse, that leaves a lot of opportunity for prejudice and for discriminating against one another. And I say that because the Scripture we're in today, in chapter 10, highlights this very idea. And what a cool opportunity for our students who are loving across lines that maybe others might struggle with.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:17] So if you turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 10, we'll be in verses 1 through 33 in our time here, that's a lot of ground to cover, we can do it. And this is actually the longest narrative in the Book of Acts, and it covers chapter 10, verse 1, all the way into chapter 11, verse 18. What I'd like to do is cover it in three parts, and we'll cover the first part today. And the big idea I want us to think about is to be free from prejudice.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:49] Now, when I say that, and I've spoken on this a few times over the last few years in thinking about racism and different things, and some of you get mad at me as if I'm accusing you of being a racist. And I just want to say upfront, I'm making zero accusations today. And what I'm asking is, that every one of us would tie ourselves to the Scripture and that we would be willing to ask in our own hearts today, no matter what ethnicity, what color, no matter what religious background you have, that you and I would be willing today to ask God to search our hearts, and is there any prejudice in our hearts towards other people, whether another political party, another religion, or another ethnicity? If there's prejudice in our hearts, that will lead to discrimination, that we will pre-judge, then we'll discriminate, and sometimes that'll move towards hatred. But in light of the Scripture today, could I just ask that we really humbly come before God and ask Him afresh to check our hearts? And that there might be repentance today where that needs to be, but there also just might be gratitude today, where God has freed our hearts in different ways. And that we might have the courage to ask God, is there something deeply embedded in there that I don't even know is there? We want to be free from pre-judging, discriminating, and hating other people, and this part of Scripture helps us free up.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:03] The Book of Acts is a sturdy and robust teaching on the early church and how it began. Christ lived, He died, He rose, and now the church is being established as the Spirit of God is moving. It's important that prejudices are removed so that the Gospel can spread, and the Good News of Jesus can move forward. I believe that's why this is such a prominent piece of the Book of Acts, the prejudice has to come down, and then the Gospel goes, then real freedom comes when Christ is received. All right, are we good with that? No accusation, we're just asking the questions today and judging and asking God to grab our hearts and whatever way he needs to.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:54] And we're going to look at it through two men's journeys in Acts chapter 10 verses 1 through 8, this is one man's journey, and I want us to walk through his journey first, "Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort." So we have this man, he's at Caesarea. Israel is a small country, it's a Mediterranean country, it's on the Mediterranean Sea, and Caesarea is a coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea in Israel. It's a little more north of the other city that we'll find in just a moment. There's a man that's here, his name is Cornelius, he's a centurion. Now, a centurion is a Roman military commander, he is over 100 men, that is his responsibility, thus the name centurion. He has responsibility for them, he's a leader of them in the Roman army. It says he was part of this Italian cohort, so this was an Italian group of men, and a cohort is the same as a battalion, we might think of that today militarily, and it would have 600 men. So there would be six inches centurions that were over 100 men each in this battalion, and Cornelius is one of those men. So a Roman military leader.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:16] In verse 2, we find something about Cornelius that would be different probably than most Roman military leaders. It says, "He was a devout man and one who feared God with all his household and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually." He's a devout man, he feared God. We don't get the impression that he has actually converted to Judaism to be a Jew, but somewhere along the way, there must have been some Jewish people in the way that they honored God, that this man, Cornelius, became a God-fearer, one who feared the one true God of the Israelites. But somewhere along the way, some prejudice had to come down for him to be following their God. He followed their God, he prayed to him, and he gave alms, which means he gave to the poor, so he was active in what he did in following God, and he did this with his household.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:41] And I want to note this about Cornelius, a few things as we unfold his story. I think he's a good example of a man. He led his men well in the military. He is a devout follower of God with his household, he's leading his home. And if I can just continue to say this out loud, to counter our culture, our culture is continuing to emasculate, and enable, and cause men to choose to be passive. We are not talking about a passive man; this is a man that is leading his home. And God has given men the responsibility to lead in their homes. I'm not talking about being dominating, or abusive, that's not what I mean. But I'm not talking about being passive, it is a man's responsibility to lead humbly in his home. And Cornelius, this is as much as he knows, he's on a journey. Remember we're on a journey. This is as much as he knows, is to follow this God, he's praying, he's giving, he's including his household with him, he's leading them as much as he knows how to.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:14] Now, what is his journey? When he was growing up, the Roman military is who occupied Israel. They're the very people that Israel wanted to have a messiah and a savior to lead them from. And he would have been chasing after the Roman gods, Augustus, Jupiter. Mars. And apparently somewhere along the way, it came up empty following the Roman gods. And he pursued something else, and really, we know God is pursuing him. And instead of those gods, now he's chasing after Israel's God. A Gentile, which is a non-Jew, and a Jew, would have a disdain for one another, they would have prejudged each other, they would discriminate against one another. And yet somewhere in Cornelius' journey, he wasn't discriminating against the Jews and their God. He's now a devout follower of this God. Something was appealing, and something was breaking barriers down so that he might be freed to follow God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:46] In verse 3, "About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” The ninth hour is 3:00 pm, it was a time to pray. Cornelius is praying, as he's praying, and you never know what will happen when you're praying. And when he's praying, he sees a vision, and angel comes, calls him by name, "And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed." Any of us would probably be alarmed if we have an angel show up in a vision to us in our prayer, "He said, “What is it, Lord?” He recognized in this time, he had enough communication with God that He recognized this is the Lord. And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God." You're being noticed, it's noticed what you're doing. “Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter." Now we'll spend some time thinking about Peter's journey and his freedom from prejudice in just a moment, but here Cornelius is being told that he's to send to Joppa. Joppa is also a coastal town in Israel, it's about 30 miles south, 30 plus miles south of Caesarea. So God's going to be working here behind the scenes in Caesarea with Cornelius and with Peter in Joppa.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:10] Now, depending on what you know or don't know about in your Bible, Joppa is a setting for another opportunity to consider freedom from prejudice. When Jonah, the Prophet, was called out by God to go to the Ninevites who were not Jews and bring a message to them that they're to repent and turn towards God. And Jonah said, no way. He had a disdain and a prejudice toward the Ninevites, so he went to Joppa to head out to sea to try and escape what God wanted him to do, Joppa becomes a place of disobedience for him. After quite a trek, Jonah ends up going to Nineveh, preaches a message, and they repent, and then he's mad about it. I told you these people would do that, that's why I didn't want to go. So we're talking about being free from prejudice for the advance of the Gospel so that there can be real freedom to every person, at least to have the possibility. Jonah didn't want anything to do with it, God will still accomplish what he wants to accomplish.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:54] Verse 6, "He stayed with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” Last week, Jordan took us through the last part of Acts 9. We ended Acts 9 with Peter staying for a few days at Simon the tanner’s house. And one thing that Jordan said about Simon the tanner, he would have been a person that no one would have wanted to associate with because of his job as a tanner. Now, for the Jews, there were ceremonial and religious kinds of laws around their food, some that was cleaned, some that was unclean, and something that was dead was unclean. And for a tanner, who was working with unclean animals, and therefore, he was considered to be an unclean person, and yet here's Peter hanging out at his house. And this is where the men are to go to get Peter to bring them back to Cornelius. "When the angel who was speaking..." in verse 7, "...had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants, 8and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa." So he obeyed, he was praying, this is what God gave him, now he obeys it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:00] And here's the second thing I want to note about Cornelius as a man, I love that as a commander of 100, he did not have to explain to his men these three he was sending to Joppa why they were going there, but the Scripture says he explained everything to them. In our day and time, we have to explain the why, we can't just command and go. We can't just say, believe this, believe it. We need to explain why we believe it's worth following God. Why do we believe Jesus is who He says He is? Why we believe the Scripture is worth tethering and anchoring ourselves to? Why? I love that Cornelius took the time to say, and he explained everything he said, I was praying, and this is what happened, so we're going to do it, and then they were off. This is one man's journey, somewhere along chasing a bunch of gods, somewhere some prejudices came down, and he looked at Israel's God and said, I'm in on him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:23] But there's more, does anybody's journey here look like Cornelius's. Now, my hunch is none of us have been following Roman gods. Maybe, I don't know. But there are five gods that I would name that aren't Roman gods that it's possible that we're following, self, tradition, culture, science, and feelings, those seem to me to be the competing gods today. Some of those things are not bad in and of themselves, they just make for horrible gods. It could be that you've already been on a path and freed up from those things, prejudices toward them, and you've seen Jesus. But somewhere along the way, we come to the conclusion these things are empty, maybe I need to look at those people and their God. Sometimes we may be far enough along where we know to be in a church and we know there's a God, but like Cornelius, we don't know that there's something more still to be had for there be true freedom? This is one man's journey.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:13] Another man's journey, we see beginning in verse 9, and it's Peter. "On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city." Those three guys from Cornelius now are headed towards Peter, while they're on their journey. "Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray." Remember, he's in a Mediterranean city also, overlooking the sea, and he's on this housetop praying at noon, "But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air." That's sort of kind of a crazy thing, he to sitting there, he kind of drifts off as he's praying, and now he sees this sheet with all these different animals in it. And somebody did a painting of it, and just an idea maybe of, artistically, what that could have been like. Peter, off in a trance, the sheet being lowered, different animals in it. Then verse 13, while he's in this trance and seeing this, "A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean."

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:53] To understand what's happening here, we go back to Leviticus Chapter 11, which was one of the first books of the Bible, the first five books. And in Leviticus Chapter 11, there's a list of clean and unclean animals that the Jews could eat, not eat. And they weren't to eat that which was unclean. What Peter is seeing here, he's trying to figure this out, this would be like there's something about food and he's figuring out, okay, it looks like what God's doing here is saying that these things can mix. But he's saying, I've never done that before, I've observed the Jewish laws and I haven't eaten the unclean foods.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:34] Now, a few weeks ago, if you're thinking, okay, I'm not really tracking, I don't know Leviticus, you're talking about a sheet with these different animals in it. Let me just give a [inaudible] here today and maybe another way to think about what's happening and what Peter is seeing. A few weeks ago, I was looking at sports on the website that I look at, and as I was looking at it, I saw an ad for weight loss. And I'm kind of a drifter in my weight, and I thought, I'm at a place where I need to lose some, and so I clicked on it on this ad because it just looked intriguing to me. Forty-five minutes later, it hooked me, and I saw more testimonials about somebody who lost 46lbs in three weeks, and somebody lost this and that. And then they would tell you some facts in between and talk about the glycine that we need and collagen that's missing from our diet. And this will make your skin look better, and you'll sleep better, and all these different things. And I'm thinking, yes, I don't sleep good, I want to sleep better. I want to do that. I mean, this they had me for forty-five minutes and I'm thinking, when are you going to tell me what you're doing? And finally, it's Dr. Killian's bone broth homestyle diet, you do two of these packets of bone broth a day and you're in. And so I looked at it and there's a special just for me, and I ordered it. But that's not where it stops, once you order it, it's, hey, we've got you, you can get more of this at a discounted rate if you do it now beyond the three weeks. So I did it, I thought, why not? So I waited for several days for my packets of bone broth that I'm to eat twice a day. This morning I weighed in, and after three weeks, I've lost 6lbs. Now, my boys laughed at me, they said, we don't know anybody that clicks on those ads, we don't know anybody that once they click on them, they'd actually buy the stuff, but I've got the last laugh because I've dropped 6 pounds.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:58] But that's not the point, it's really great ingredients, it's all healthy, but there's a note at the bottom of the packet, and it says manufactured in a facility that processes milk, soy, egg, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts. None of those products are in here. But because of the severe nature of people's allergies today, some people can't do this with even the possibility that it touched where these things were manufactured, you can't mix the two, or it could be a lot of bad news for somebody. That was in Peter's mind, you don't mix these two different food groups that are going on here. You don't mix these different animals, that's unclean, that's dangerous. So we see in this picture, he's trying to figure out what's going on here. And what we know is, is that God is breaking down a prejudice barrier in him, but right now he just thinks it's a food thing. And it says, what? God is cleansed, in verse 15, is no longer considered unholy. Now Peter's thinking it through and saying, okay, it looks like now that God is changing things, and since Christ has come, then there's no longer this food distinction I'm going to have to do. That's what he would be thinking in the moment, trying to figure out what's happening. And Peter is just like me and you, and sometimes we need to see it, not once, not twice, but three times before we believe it. And for some of us, maybe four, five, six, and seven before we actually believe it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:49] Then verse 16, "This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky." It looks like God was trying to really imprint something on Peter's heart, there's a change here, I'm doing a work in your heart today, and I'm changing things for you, and your life is never going to be the same. This would have been shocking for Peter because his whole life, this is how he did it. Think about what is that thing you've ever done your whole life, or that thing you believed your whole life, and then all of a sudden you realize at 38 or 42 or whatever, oh, wow, I don't have to do that, or I can do this, it would be hard to figure that out. Talk about outside your comfort zone.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:42] We're talking about two men's journeys of prejudices being broken and freedom coming. For Peter, a rugged fisherman, a Jew, chosen by Jesus to be a disciple, ups and downs, a fierce loyalty, a quick departure when things got tough at the cross, and a restoring that Jesus does with him. And then in Acts chapter 2, he's the one that shares the first message of the Gospel and 3000 Jews come to Jesus. And then as we've tracked in Acts, there are barriers that are starting to come down, because then he's with a Samaritan, someone that's a mixed race, and now the Gospel is going to the Samaritans. And now Peter is about to discover, oh, this isn't just for the Jews and the Samaritans, this is for everybody. But right now he just thinks it's about the food, and that something is changing there. God is working behind the scenes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:00] I love what one lady said, what would be in the sheet that God would put in your dream? That right now you don't believe can mix, or there might be something you're pre-judging or discriminatory towards. What would be in the sheet in your dream? And think about this journey that Peter is on, this is a man who knows Jesus, who knows the Spirit of God, who's being used greatly by God, and he is still prejudiced and discriminatory at this point. Aren't we glad that God graciously sticks with us in a journey of breaking things and freeing us as we go? "For I'm confident to this very thing," Philippians 1:6 says, "that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." God says that we are a work in progress. Peter actually relapses in Galatians chapter 2 from what's about to happen here, but we're all work in progress.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:11] Now, we're thinking about two men's journeys, and I said a minute ago that it's crucial to know the why. And so, why is it that we would want to be free from prejudice? Now, that may seem obvious to us, or it may not be. It might be that we really do have groups of people in mind that the last thing I'm going to do is free them up in my mind. Don't you know what they've done? Don't you know who they are? Don't you know what they're about? No, I don't want to, I don't have anything to be freed from because I don't have a problem because of who they are and what they do.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:47] But why should we free up from prejudice? It's embedded in God's character, and we see that unfold as the rest of this story unfolds in verse 24. Skip verses 17 through 23, Peter's perplexed, he's trying to process, he's now with Cornelius guys, and they're going to take him on to meet Cornelius. In verse 23, "And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24On the following day he entered Caesarea." So he's gone up, it's a day and a half walk from Joppa to Caesarea, "Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends." I love that Cornelius is not interested in just a one-on-one time with Peter, he's interested in all those close to him to hear what's about to come. He doesn't know exactly, he just knows God has met him in this dream, he's asked him to send this person to him, and he's gathered up everybody that he knows to come and hear it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:02] I think about when we do baptisms, and what a powerful opportunity we have to invite our closest family and friends and we want them to see that there's something that's changed in our hearts and we're making that known through our baptism today. It's a beautiful demonstration of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and we want all kinds of people to see that. That's what this moment is like, Cornelius is there saying, I want as many people to hear whatever this is, and he didn't even know what it was yet, "When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him." Let's keep in mind we're talking about being free from prejudice, here are the Roman soldiers who were occupying Israel, and as they're occupying Israel, here's this man that comes and he bows down to Peter. Peter, who would have had a disdain for them. Now, that's an opportunity, isn't it? You wonder if it crossed his mind, it was an opportunity to put his foot on his neck for all that they had done to them over the years, I wouldn't put that past Peter. But that's not what he did, though, because God was doing a work in his heart, that's not how we looked at this man. Instead, he said, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” 27As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled." In verse 28, to me is really the theme verse in this section, "And he said to them, “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." Peter was confused, perplexed, and reflective, and now he realizes that wasn't about food, that was about that there's no distinction among people. And that the Gospel, the message of Jesus, is not just for the Jews, it's for everybody, it's for the nations, it's for every ethnicity. "And yet God." Your version might say "But God." It's unlawful for a Jew to associate with a foreigner, or to visit him, but God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:06] Have you ever seen those t-shirts that say, But God? Those must not be very popular shirts, none of the others have seen it either, it's out there somewhere. But it's the idea in Scripture that, But God. There's this, but God. In Romans 6:23 it says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." But God, if it wasn't, but God, we'd be left to die in our sin. It's Ephesians chapter 2, "That you were dead in your trespasses." It's saying you were dead in sin, but God, in verse 4, made us alive in Christ Jesus. But God, he's the rescuer, he reaches down, and God reaches down and brings salvation, he takes us from being dead and brings us to life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:59] But God. He had done that with Peter, and I wonder as he's reflecting now, if those last words Jesus said to him were starting to come to bear, "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. Lo, I'm with you always, even to the end of the age. All the nations, this includes everybody. Or Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” I wonder if it's starting to come and click, oh, this is for everybody, the opportunity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:59] So he said, “That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.” In 30 through 32, Cornelius recaps what we've already talked about, and said this is why I sent for you. And I want us to think about as we come near the end here in verse 33, your journey, and as I've reflected on mine. He said, “So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” This is such a respectful man; you've been kind enough to come. And I would say that to you today, that you've been kind enough to come to hear and listen from God's word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:16] Today's September 11, and depending on where you were, and how old you are, it conjures up different things in our minds. One thing for sure it should do is conjure up a grieving for the families of those 3000 or so that died on that day, a grieving of so many things lost in that moment. On another side of it, where does your heart go towards the people group of the ones who crash the towers? Is there any prejudgment, discrimination, or hatred towards the people? See again, when I think about us today, I think what we have to contemplate is our political divides. Do I have a prejudice, a discrimination, and a hatred towards someone because of their political affiliation? Do I have a prejudgment towards someone because of their ethnicity? Do I have a prejudgment towards someone because of their church denomination or their world religion? Where do our hearts go when we think about those things so easily divide today? And candidly, that are stoked for us to further our division. Before we make prejudgments or assessments of different ones, I wonder if I could just challenge our thinking about who God is and what he says. And we should come to good and right conclusions from Scripture, and then how do we respond from there?

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:09] So I'd ask us the question today have we searched out the Scriptures where we anchor ourselves as believers to understand God and what his view of government and politics is? Is our starting point that we understand God and his viewpoint of politics and government before we start speaking into our current day government and politics? What about immigration? Have we studied the Bible on immigration, on refugees, on race, on life in the womb, and outside the womb? Do we really know what God says about it? And that's where we're anchored, and we have conversations out of our understanding of who God is and what he says about these things. What does God say about our opponents and what does God say about our enemies? What does God say about sexual morality, about identity, about different beliefs and religions? And when we understand these things, it gives us an anchoring.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:31] And regardless of how someone else views any of these things, here's one spot that I just want to give a precursor and a hint towards, of God's way of viewing this. Every person is made in the image of God, and therefore every person is to be valued as a person made in the image of God. Every person has a marred image of God because sin has marred every one of us, and each of us expresses our sin in different ways. There's the hope that through Jesus Christ, that that marred image can be restored in him. And that the unity that we all so yearn for is actually found at the foot of the cross in Jesus Christ, and there's a true and eternal and lasting unity for every tribe, tongue, and nation. Regardless of our views, we treat people as made in the image of God, the person is a person to be valued. And then we pray that as God reveals the truth to us from his word, that our truth is bathed and surrounded in grace in the way we express it. With the hope that we get to deliver the same message that Peter will deliver to Cornelius in the second part of this narrative.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:38] Father, I pray today that we would not take lightly what is happening here. It's remarkable to see the prejudice torn down, and the freedom in these two men, different paths, different stories, and it's about to converge at the cross. Father, I pray in us today, one that we can celebrate and be grateful for where we're not prejudiced and discriminatory towards others. But Father, would you search our hearts and let us not be afraid to ask you to do so, are there any crevices in there, are there any glaring things in there where we are prejudiced towards a certain group of people or some people? God, will you free us up and will you bring us to repentance and confession? And Father, I pray that in that freedom that you give us a desire then, to be able to talk of Jesus with them. Lord, I pray this might even stoke in some of us a desire to have the same kind of gatherings, which is a good way to check our hearts today. Would we host a gathering of people, like happened here with the Jew and the Gentile and the military and the fishermen, it's such a mix. God, we stir our hearts for the kind of gatherings that don't look like our norm, where Jesus can be the center of those, that our hope for the world is Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:37] So I love to give this space to be quiet before the Lord, and I do that because it gives us a chance to honor God. It gives us a chance to reflect on just very briefly what he might be saying, and for us to know if he's asking us to do something, just like he asked Cornelius and Peter, he had something for them, and they acted on it. So whatever it is today, maybe God has something for us, and like these two men, we want to act on what that is. So let's be quiet before the Lord and allow these things to sink in.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051
817.488.1213