Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 18: Year 2
“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us’” (Acts 15: 7 and 8).
I often converse with others who study the scriptures who argue that Paul is the designated carrier of the Gospel to the Gentiles, that is, to the non-Jewish nations. However, there is much evidence to show that Peter is also, perhaps the first, to do the same. So both are sent. It’s okay. Peter knew, and walked with the living Jesus. Peter was invited to “come and follow Jesus.” Peter was a married man but left family to do the will of God. My point here is that Peter, while often over bearing and outspoken, was an original follower of our Lord Jesus who showed us how to carry the Gospel to those who have yet to know about it. He did this work in both word and deed.
We are not required to be educated theologians to carry the Gospel to others. All who believe are theologians at some level. Paul was a professional theologian. He was a Pharisee, although misguided, before the risen Lord changed his path while on his way to Damascus. Peter was a fisherman. The message here is that God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the called.
While both Paul and Peter appear to be down playing the requirement to be circumcised, it was Peter who stood up and reminded his listeners, and us, about God knowing the human heart no matter who we are. And this is the most important message; God knows our hearts and minds. No matter what our walk in life is, educated, gifted, or basic laborer, the only important quality about us is whether or not we have love for God and others.
Let me say also that if we feel we don’t have this kind of love, the next thing to ponder is, “do we even want this kind of love?” Sadly, if we don’t want to love others, we won’t. If we do want to have love for others but feel we can’t, we need to ask God for help. We should pray using the words, “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of [my heart] by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that [I] may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP 355)
We must keep our prayers going to God for Ukraine and Ethiopia, it’s working.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John