In Acts 10 God sets up an elaborate series of events involving a strange vision and an angel in order to get Peter (Jew, apostle, miracle worker and preacher of the Good news of Jesus) to meet Cornelius (Military man and ‘Gentile’ who somehow figured out it was a good idea to worship God and give to the poor). God wants Cornelius to know the fullness of the kingdom of God and Peter to re-define the phrase ‘people of God’ Ordinarily that would have been pretty difficult for Peter because “everyone knows that going into the house of a Gentile (sinner) makes you unacceptable to God, right?” Despite spending all that time with Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit he’s still clinging on to his heritage just a little bit. God gives him the same vision three times over and then confronts him with the words “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” He’s still trying to figure it out when he gets the invitation to visit Cornelius, but by the time he gets there (v28) he knows that God’s not just talking about food regulations, he’s talking about people. As he steps over the threshold he has to swallow his Jewish identity and go with what God’s saying. When he sees the Holy Spirit fall on Cornelius and his family he knows God cares more about people than the food they eat.
Much of our lives are shaped by the national and church culture we live and grow up in and many people expect us just to ‘fit in’. But sometimes we have to reach beyond the limits our culture sets in order to reach people God wants to reach. Peter was criticised for his actions by the Jewish believers when he returned to Jerusalem and we too may receive criticism when we step outside our norms to serve God. He has no favourites.