“Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.'” (Acts 10:34, NIV84)
This had to be tough to say. It came from a man who was raised in a culture of people who described themselves as God’s “chosen” people. When this encounter with Cornelius was over, Peter was going to get grilled by the believers back in Jerusalem for associating with “unclean Gentiles” (non-Jews). My point is that it was, and still is, pervasive in the Jewish culture that they are favored by God. Our text for today clearly states that God does not show favoritism. How can we properly understand this?
First, the Jewish race was chosen by God. Jews were chosen not because they were better, smarter or more spiritual but because God loved them and wanted to do his work in and through them. Even in early Judaism, it was understood that they were “set apart” so they would stand out to the world around them. God wanted to reach the world through this group of people. Second, we need to understand that if being chosen and set apart by God is by His grace, then it is for the whole world. God loves all humanity. Jesus came to bear the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). The evidence of the Holy Spirit working in Cornelius (and those who were with him) proved to Peter that God’s grace and kingdom was and is for all humankind.
So, when we think in terms of chosen, we as Christians must see that we too are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; that we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). We are not Christians today because we are favored or loved by God more than others. We have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and are born again by the power of His Holy Spirit. Look around at your life. Who has God placed in your life who needs to know they are loved by Him? If God doesn’t show favoritism, then neither can we! We need to spread the love of God to all we come into contact with.