Thought for the Day by Richard Barton
Simon Peter and I are both horrified.
In Simon Peters dream, the sheet was covered in all kinds of animals birds and reptiles. The voice said “kill and eat”
Simon Peter and I are both horrified. But for different reasons.
For Simon Peter a good Jew, eating any meat or food that was not kosher was unthinkable. Leviticus has a list of unclean animals birds and reptiles, and I can imagine lots of them were on the sheet that Simon Peter saw. Owls and cormorants, winged insects other than locusts and crickets, moles and rats, lizards and hooved animals that do not chew the cud. Jewish law stated that eating such animals made the person unclean.
For me, I am a vegetarian and have been for over 30 years. I don’t eat the meat of any animal, not because I think it makes me unclean, but partly because when I stopped eating meat I didn’t miss the taste and partly because I believe that eating less meat can help with the sustainability of this planet. I would also be appalled to think that many species of animals that may be in danger of extinction might be appropriate for the dinner table.
The voice in Simon Peters dream says “What God has made clean, you must not call profane”
This is the point at which Peter realises that “God treats everyone on the same basis” that in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile. It is a key moment in the development of the early church and a concept picked up by Paul in his letters.
To many of us the idea that as Simon Peter says “God treats everyone on the same basis” that no one is unclean, that Gods love is for all without exception, is a given. It is so obvious, and part of our faith that making this point becomes almost boring. God loves everyone! And we say “Tell me something I don’t know!”
And yet, in todays world the divisions between Jew and Gentile are arguably still present, together with tensions between of those of other faiths and none. Add to these conflicts the tensions between races, political systems, people of different cultures. Not to mention the conflict over climate change and how to care for the environment.
What is perhaps needed is for us to do more than blithely accept this truism, that Gods love is for all. But somehow to live it. To see in absolutely all people and all creation something made in the image of God and to work towards a world where nothing that God has made is profane.