Why do we have so much trouble trusting the goodness of God’s grace? We know that grace saves us, but we act like this truth is too good to be true. We struggle to accept what’s undeserved, what we haven’t achieved. In vain we try to earn what can only be accepted as a gift.
Peter, a trusted Apostle in the Jerusalem church, pulls out a trusty three-point sermon to steer the Antioch congregation, which is overwhelmed by the Spirit’s attempts at a course correction. But its out-of-the-box theology makes this no ordinary three-pointer. First, Peter testifies that God doesn’t distinguish between Gentiles and Jews but regards them equally. This jars Jewish Christians, who have been God’s favorites for thousands of years. While Peter proclaims the expanded family of God, his audience thinks about the power and influence they will likely lose. Hearing that others are as chosen as you are may not sound like good news. Second, Peter explains that since achieving righteousness through their law and works was too difficult for the first chosen people, there’s no reason to place that burden on the backs of the expanded people of God. God’s grace is what saves, not our adherence to the Law of Moses. Third, Peter preaches the essence of the gospel, making God’s grace for all God’s people clear. These were revolutionary statements for their social and religious context.
And this radical gospel of Jesus Christ continues to unfold before us in 2021. Whether we are shackled by the constraints of too much religion or lost without guidance in a world of possibilities, God’s grace offers spiritual seekers a way that is radically good and beautiful.
Who in this Scripture do you resonate with the most: the Jewish insider who holds the chosen position or the Gentile outsider who has been excluded? What makes Peter’s message good news for you?
God, help us trust that your grace is as good as it is, as you share it generously and give it without distinction to all of us who seek you. Amen.