I DON'T GET IT.
For the last 7 months I have been eating, sleeping and breathing the story of Peter's life-changing encounter with Cornelius in Acts 10. I think this passage is filled with crucial insights for church bodies who are interested in multicultural ministry. So this is the first post in my series on Peter!
In Acts 10 we find Peter on the roof praying, when he suddenly becomes hungry. A meal is in the works, but before its ready Peter falls into a trance. He has three visions, all the same, where a voice tells him to kill and eat unclean animals. But Peter isn't having it! Each time Peter says no, the reply is, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts 10:15)
I love what happens next. Peter doesn't walk away feeling invigorated by a new vision for a multi-ethnic church. He doesn't call all his friends together to discuss how they might change the status quo of separation to bring eternal life to the Gentiles. Nor does he start packing bags so that he can move to the nearest Gentile community and start evangelizing. On the contrary, Peter left the roof wondering what the vision was supposed to mean! (Acts 10:17) Peter doesn't get it!
This has potential to be vey instructive for us. How many pastors, lay leaders, seminary graduates, entire congregations even, have indeed been given a vision for multi-ethnic ministry, but have no idea what exactly that means? We have a sense, a feeling, perhaps like Peter even a picture- albeit a rather fuzzy one. But we should not assume that because we feel called to multi-ethnic ministry, that we fully understand what God intends. Should we pick up our families and move? Should we start a new church or transform the one we have? Should we change our leadership structures, recruit new members or start a partner church? Is God calling us to this work through our church, or our personal lives? Could He be asking us to get involved in new organizations, new neighborhoods, new countries? Perhaps, we, too, can give ourselves permission to admit that we aren't quite sure what God is calling us to do. I love that Peter must go through a series of experiences before his vision transforms to revelation. In so doing, he allows us to explore through experience, too. Its okay that we don't get it... yet.
So, if you have been called to multi-ethnic ministry, have been given a vision that doesn't quite make sense, and you're not quite sure where to begin- keep wondering. Multi-ethnic ministry is a journey, and together we will explore how Peter's journey might lend us some insight for our own.