One of the essential steps in establishing the first century church is the preaching we read about to people of various cultures and nationalities. When speaking in the home of Cornelius, Peter comes to the realization that God does not discriminate, and in Romans 2:2 states that God’s judgment is based on truth. In verses 6-11 of that same chapter, Paul makes it clear that our actions will be what is brought under judgment and any superficial conditions. In Ephesians 6:9 again reinforces this nondiscriminatory characteristic of God, and I Peter 1:15-17 asks us to emulate God’s qualities without deference to our gender, race, socioeconomic status or anything else that might differentiate us in the world’s eyes.
Equality in Diversity
In our culture, various groups receive special consideration in specific settings. People may obtain preferential treatment due to things they have no control over, but we are the same in God’s eyes. We all have the same rights and responsibilities in His eyes. We have the same promises, and we have the same consequences for disobedience. Especially in the book of Acts, God’s word is shared with people of many different backgrounds, and the message and the results remain the same – whether Romans, Africans, Greeks, Jews, males, females, old, young, masters, slaves, rich, poor, upstanding citizens, or criminals. God’s message should not be discriminatorily delivered. It is for everyone.
Once we have received the gospel, we have certain rights regardless of our backgrounds. II Peter 3:9 states that God gives all the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. Romans 10:11-12 says that all who call upon the name of the Lord, and Paul is an illustration of this very fact in Acts 22:16 – one who overtly persecuted Christians but repented to follow God. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21, Jesus makes it clear that along with our rights, we have the responsibility to obey His word, and Hebrews 5:9 calls Jesus the author of salvation to the obedient. Finally, Galatians 3:27-29 tells us that we all are one in Christ with equal opportunity for salvation.
We need to see the world the same way God sees the world. We are all the same in our obstacle of sin, but God’s love is open to all of us. In this, we can all be saved regardless of our backgrounds that make us different. As we interact with each other, our focus should be on the commonalities we have in God, and we should be helping each other to that goal we all have.
lesson by Tim Smelser