Thinking of God as impartial – “God shows no partiality” – should please us.
This is not to say that God treats everyone exactly the same. God chooses individuals for specific purposes – like Paul, his “chosen instrument” (Acts 9:15). And God chose the entire nation of Israel – also for a specific purpose (Deuteronomy 7:6).
But Peter here states that when it comes to being accepted by God, God shows no partiality. Instead, there is equality. Anyone can come to him in obedience and humility.
Again, this should please us. It doesn’t matter what sins we’ve committed. We still can turn to Christ and receive eternal life. It doesn’t matter where we’re born, or to whom we were born. Those types of things don’t factor into God’s plan of salvation.
The Jews of Peter’s day were strictly following God’s law. They were trying to be a holy people, as God had called them to be – set apart for him. A key component of God’s law was the dietary law. There were foods that were considered clean and unclean. But Jesus wiped away that portion of the law, declaring all foods clean. We recall that from our reading of Mark 7:14-23. It’s not about food. It’s about the heart.
And so the sheet Peter saw with that assortment of clean and unclean animals was God’s reminder of Jesus’ words. And when the Roman soldier and two servants showed up, sent from the centurion, Peter perhaps was reminded of Jesus’ actions (Luke 7:1-10). Peter could go meet with this non-Jewish man. And he could eat with him. All foods are clean. All people are clean as well.
A lot of our national conversation right now is about privilege. In what ways are people given advantages in life and in what ways are people given disadvantages? People rage against each other when it comes to these issues. We’re going to see later in Acts that people, perhaps, should be raging against God when it comes to these issues (Acts 17:26). God decides where and when people will be born, and where and when nations will rise and fall. God is in charge. Rage tends to stop in the face of the sovereign God (Job 40:4).
Our circumstances in this fallen world may not be equal. Some are born into wealth and some into poverty. Some had tragedy befall them at an early age. Some people never knew their fathers or mothers. Some people grew up in full and healthy homes. Some people have high intellects. Some people are athletic. Some have a knack for making money. Others don’t.
This is inequality, and inequality is built into the framework of a fallen world.
But in God’s economy – the only economy that matters, the economy that lasts for eternity – all are equal. He shows no partiality. Anyone can come to him and receive eternal life.
A question for your day: Where do God’s grace and will for people of all nations, tribes, and tongues fit into the national conversation that is occurring right now?