By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“The biggest problem (with the Church today) is that we let our ideologies get in the way of our baptism.”
– Walter Brueggemann
Acts ten presents the reader with a surprising and game-changing event. Before, the Gentiles were seen as subhuman, nothing more than animals. But now, it is revealed that Christ’s life-altering power is extended to them as well as the Jews.
“While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles” (Acts 10:44-45).
The Jews were amazed and astonished that the Spirit was poured out on Gentiles. It made no sense to them! Gentiles and Jews could not be more different, and yet the Spirit fills each and every one of them.
The beauty of Christ’s death and resurrection is that the atonement and power of God’s grace is not just for a specific and closed group of people. Rather, Christ’s blood was shed for all people. No matter your background, the color of your skin, your political beliefs, your language, your country, your wrongdoings, or your rightdoings, Christ died for you!
I think we call all agree on this statement. But too often, there are people in the Church that–just like the Jews in Acts–are surprised that the Spirit is poured out on the people across the political aisle. We are surprised that those that we may readily disagree with are being saved and called by God just like us!
We are surprised because we have allowed our ideologies, politics, and differences get in the way of our shared baptism. We have to believe that God is changing their hearts just as much as He’s changing ours. That He has filled them with His Spirit and is forming them into Christ’s image just as He has with us.
This belief–that we share the same baptism of the Spirit–should supersede any differences that may expose themselves. Imagine how many lifestyle, political, and background differences that a Jew and Gentile must have. And yet God’s Spirit fell upon them all.
We cannot allow ideological or generational differences to divide God’s Church. For it is by God’s Spirit and our baptism that we become one. We come together week after week to worship God for all He has done, but sometimes we can allow our diversity to separate us.
God’s plan for the Church to build and spread His Kingdom on earth can only happen if we work as one community. We are only effective if we cling to the bond we have in our baptism rather than allow our differences to tear us apart.
We are human. We have different beliefs, different ideas, different backgrounds. But we have one Christ, one God, and one Mission.