These days Concordia Seminary is hosting its Multiethnic Symposium. It’s a gathering of Christians from different ethnic backgrounds who have come together to explore the life and mission of Christ’s Church, “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,” who one day will stand “before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
This morning’s chapel features Acts 10:34-48, in which a Jewish Christian, Peter, goes to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. That wasn’t easy for Peter. It was as a Jew that he followed Jesus. True, Jesus did show that He had come for Gentiles, but Peter didn’t get the Gentile mission into his head until he was invited into the home of Cornelius. I should go to someone who’s not one of my people? Peter did obey God’s prompting and not only witnessed but grew spiritually himself. “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
So also for us. As we get out of our personal comfort zones, our comfy church cocoons and get to know people different than we are, we put ourselves in positions to grow in faith and grow in our witness to Jesus. I don’t mean getting to know other Christians, although that’s fine. I especially mean what Peter did, getting to really know someone who doesn’t yet believe in Jesus. A great way to do that is by humbling helping them in their bodily, family, economic, and reputation needs. That is, by doing for those who do not know Jesus what God commands us in commandments four through eight. 16th century educator and theologian Phillip Melanchthon said, “We should learn that the works of the Second Table are truly the worship of God, that is, when our works are guided by the fear of God and by faith.”