He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. Acts 10:11-16 NIV
contempt means the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn
Throughout human history people of low socioeconomic class, people who are ill or disabled, or people who are extremely poor have suffered from others treating them with contempt or with disgust. Examples include lepers in ancient times, untouchables in India, people who are HIV positive, or disabled people in 3rd world countries today.
In Acts 10 and 11 Peter and the church in Jerusalem were taught directly by God through dreams, and a vision of an angel that Gentiles were and are loved by God, and were and are welcome in God’s kingdom. God did not want Gentiles to be treated with contempt or disgust.
The religious leaders of Israel in Jesus’ day were known for showing contempt for Gentiles, sinners, tax collectors and anyone they thought of as being unclean. But Jesus’ attitude toward these same people and his interactions with these types of people was a stark contrast.
In John 8:1-11 the religious leaders set a trap for Jesus using an adulterous woman. Jesus turned the situation around, by suggesting the person who had never sinned should throw the first stone at the woman. Gradually all the teachers of the law realized they all were sinners and left her alone with Jesus. He did not condemn her, but did tell her to sin no more.
Jesus called a tax collector to be his disciple and had dinner with his fellow tax collectors (Matthew 9:9-13), touched lepers in order to heal them (Matthew 8:5), had public conversations with women, even a Samaritan prostitute (John 4). Jesus touched both a man with dropsy to heal him (Luke 14:1-4), and let a woman with hemorrhaging touch his cloak (Luke 8:43-48).
In Peter’s vision about what is clean and unclean God tells him, “The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,’” Acts 10:15. In the middle ages, when the plague was ravaging the populations, it was people who worshiped God, who took care of the sick and buried the dead.
All people are loved by God. We are all sinners in need of a savior. Examine your heart. Ask, do I have contempt for someone or for a group of people? Ask God to help you know how to pray for that person or that group of people.
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