New Year Day
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” ~ Acts 10:34-35
There is a lot of newness planning that tends to happen at the beginning of the year. Each person is setting their own goals for the new year, individual new year resolutions are being formulated, some are fasting for their needs and desires, and others are hoping that the new year will bring them better and improved situations.
It is easy to each one to forget that God is receiving new year requests from millions of people all at the same time, and that the requests are as diverse as the people themselves. What is even worse is that one person’s resolution may actually clash with another’s. How is God supposed to deal with each differing request?
Cornelius requested for such an opposing thing – for Peter to come to his house in response to an instruction that God gave him. But it was against Jewish laws for Jews to enter into the homes of Gentiles and eat with them. Furthermore, Cornelius was not an apostle like Peter; he had never walked with Jesus, let alone met him. In addition, Cornelius as a soldier worked for Romans, the oppressors of Jews. Cornelius and Peter had nothing in common!
Yet God not only chose for Peter to do the unthinkable and be hosted in Gentile Cornelius’s house, but God went further to send the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and the whole Gentile crowd. No wonder Peter declares the revelation that “God does not show favouritism.” Favouritism is a word which when literally translated from the Greek means “acceptor of a face.” In other words, God does not accept someone based on ‘face’ value things such as colour, nationality, background, gender, ethnicity, or even ideology. Peter explains that the qualifying factors for being accepted by God are “fear of God” and “righteousness.” This means all have full and unlimited access to being accepted by God.
Now measure your new year resolutions, plans and strategies by these two factors – do you respect God and God’s plans and call above your own? And do you hunger and thirst for righteousness or rather for self-serving and sinful interests? You can be assured of acceptance by God and success in this new year if you fear God and remain righteous because even if you face seasons of failure, God is on your side because we all have equal and unlimited access to God all year round! This means there is no need for any to feel and act superior over others, and no need to feel inferior either, because God shows no favouritism.
-Lydia C. Neshangwe, Moderator, Council for World Mission
Lord, help us to be wise enough to prioritize fear of God and righteousness in our 2023 plans and resolutions. Thank you that you are a safe place for us because you show no favouritism and therefore, we are assured of your life-flourishing plans over us. Amen.