“But [Peter] became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat!’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.’ Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.”
Acts 10:10 – 16 NASB
Peter thinks the voice of God is testing his personal righteousness. “Eat what is forbidden, eat what the law has called unclean.” The Lord is offering a test, but it is not of Peter’s own willingness to follow the law. It is his willingness to show love to folks that are different from him. This vision inspires Peter to reach to a population that was considered ‘unclean.’ To extend the love of Christ to people that were prevented from receiving it in a meaningful way.
Perhaps we don’t think of working-class folks as ‘unclean,’ but it would be a mistake to say that they are not treated as marginal. Maybe treating someone as marginal is the new way to call them unclean. I don’t usually think about how the cashier’s day has gone or who makes the products I buy. I never gave a thought as to why I should either; it feels natural – it’s there job.
I work at a craft store and today while cleaning up our T-shirt isle my manager made a comment. “By the way,” she said, “we don’t have as much shirt inventory because the factories have stopped production.” It touched me in a way I couldn’t anticipate. How many factory workers are now struggling with rent? Or food insecurity? Or applying for unemployment? How many are struggling? And how have I neglected their struggle?
I pray that in these turbulent and unpredictable times those of us in privileged positions do our part to extend compassion to those struggling.