The Taxidermist and the Gentile | Community columns
Acts 11:1-3: “The apostles and the believers in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had accepted the word of God. When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised faithful criticized him saying, ‘Why did you go to the uncircumcised and eat with them?’ Then Peter started explaining to them, step by step.
I remember a religious revival that hit Fairmont in 1973. It was called “Key 73”. People of all beliefs, backgrounds, lifestyles, economic statuses, and political persuasions have declared that they accept God as their Father and Jesus as their Christ. And the churches began to grow in number
But surprisingly, some churches have found reasons to refuse. One concerned the baptism of adults. A second problem concerned the literal interpretation of the Bible. Other churches refused on the grounds of same sex, belief in Holy Communion, or the ordination of women.
These loyal scholars were confused and Fairmont began to drift away because the churches were acting as their own judge and jury, imposing their non-denominational standards on others. They sought, not to listen to God, but to their own thoughts. And it became the abandonment of the church. People say they love God and others, except…when it involves people or beliefs.
And suddenly, Peter’s story appeared on televisions and computers in every Fairmont home. It started when Peter finally told Jesus by the Sea of Tiberius that he was going to feed his sheep; He went from denying the Lord to deciding for him; And from this 21st chapter of John to this 11th chapter of Acts, Peter was going to upset the religious establishment.
Why would Peter stay with Cornelius, a taxidermist, who handled dead carcasses? Why would he help in the conversion of Corneille, a Gentile? And why did he dine with and accept those who were not circumcised? Because of this, he had to appear before the circumcised believers in Jerusalem to explain why he was associating and eating with these uncircumcised types.
But Peter stands up at the conference and explains these works of God. He says it is not man-made and further says, “What God has made pure you must not call profane”, that baptism cannot be withheld from those who believe, and in Acts 10:34 “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God.
So if the Jerusalem Council couldn’t fault Gentiles, the uncircumcised, women, taxidermists, tattoo artists, soldiers or whatever, then why us? Why should churches establish rules and regulations that prohibit the worship, acceptance, and following of God and Jesus Christ? Why shouldn’t we speak on behalf of those who believe regardless of color, race, origin, lifestyle, or sexual orientation?
Because of what the Jerusalem Council did, can’t we also say, “And they praised God.