Finding it difficult to handle change? God was ready to expand the church to the Gentiles but first He had to prepare His apostle, Peter, for the change. Peter and the other apostles had seen Jesus minister to Gentiles (Centurion and his servant – Matt. 8:5-13; Canaanite woman – Matt. 15:21-22, among others). He had heard His command to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20) and to be witnesses of Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Peter had seen God work among the Samaritans (Acts 8).
But to reach the Gentiles, Peter would need to set aside religious and cultural traditions which had established barriers against associating and eating with Gentiles. The religious leaders in Israel had developed the traditions to protect the people against violating the dietary regulations. But they went beyond the law. Peter had to be shown that God wanted all nations to be in His Church and Kingdom, all nations to experience eternal life and that people are more important than traditions. The vision of animals, reptiles and birds and the command to eat of them accomplished its purpose. Peter was convinced as he indicated when he said, “But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean” (10:28b). God changed Peter’s mind in two ways: He made him open to accepting Gentiles into the Church and made him willing to enter the home of a Gentile to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. He obeyed God’s will and had the joy of seeing God bring Gentiles into the Church.
Don’t like change? Don’t like traditions to be changed? In reality, there is no status quo. Change is happening all the time. The only constant is God, the Unchangeable One, and His Word. We should always strive to be sure our traditions conform to the Word of God. Traditions must be set aside if they do not meet that standard.