“But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”—Acts 10:35 (NKJV)
The religious systems that were active during the time of Jesus were primarily based in familial and racial heritage. People’s religious beliefs were handed to them at birth as a part of their identity, and their lives were largely structured around the religious customs passed down through the generations. Religious identity was chiefly determined in a person’s blood line, not by a choice of faith.
In Acts Chapter 10, the Jewish apostle Peter is sent by God to deliver the gospel to a Gentile Roman centurion and his family. When he arrives at the centurion’s household, Peter says to him, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with or befriend a Gentile, or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I am not to call anyone common or [ceremonially] unclean” (Acts 10:28 AMP).
Here we get a glimpse into the division caused by exclusivity in religion and race. However, the gospel of Jesus shook up and challenged these religious and racial systems by making the Christian faith uniquely inclusive to all people. His death and resurrection provided salvation to all, no matter their race, religion, or heritage. Peter goes on to say to the centurion, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35 NKJV).
We may not find these same racial and religious divides in our culture, but exclusion from the gospel is often found in our judgment of one another and of ourselves. We exclude one another based on moral uprightness, works, and the appearances of holiness. And even more than that, we exclude ourselves from the gift of grace given to us in Christ because we know our own wickedness and identify ourselves by it. But praise be to God! In the same way that Jesus tore down the walls of race and religion, He tore down the walls of moral perfection found in the law and gave an entirely free gift of acceptance to all who will simply believe.
DIG: Evaluate your own heart. Have you received the fullness of God’s grace for yourself? Do you extend that same grace to all others?
DISCOVER: Read Romans 8. Allow the reality of God’s grace for sin to impact your heart again.
DISPLAY: Repent for any unrighteous judgment found in your heart toward yourself or another. By faith, receive His acceptance of you and pray that He would give you the ability to love yourself and others as He does.