Right after his time with the Roman military leader where the Spirit of God was a work, Peter returns to Jerusalem to report on what had happened. The other leaders in the church heard what Peter had to say and where he was ministering. Their first reaction was to condemn him for entering the house of a Gentile. Quickly Peter explained the vision God had given him, so they could see God was so much bigger than they draw up in their own minds.
Here we have the church in its early stages, no more than a few years old and already they have begun to pick up the patterns of the religious leaders Jesus was often at odds with. Quickly there was a move for humans to determine who God could be at work with. Peter had told them a the great move of God, all they could see was the fact he was in a Gentile home, a place a good Jew was not to be. However, once Peter explains the the vision, the group quickly realizes God is bigger than they allow from time to time. The result is the dispatch of Barnabas to Antioch.
There is a strange thing in human nature. We like to develop lists of those who are in and those who are not. We might think those who have been on the out would not generate such thoughts and lists, yet we do. A great challenge in the church is to resist the pull toward generating an in and out list. The kingdom of God is so much bigger than we often allow for. This does not mean that we ignore the standards God has placed before us for the health of our relationship with God. The Body cannot simply become an anything goes place. Still, we must leave more room for God to work than we often do.
There is a great pull to think we are God, or even more dangerous, to think we know perfectly the mind of God. The reality is, God is God, not us, and we only see a poor reflection of God. It is important to leave enough room for God to be God. If Peter would have simply ignored the vision God gave him because it was not consistent with what he believed, there would have been a big problem for Peter. Yet Peter allowed God to be God, and the territory or people God was claiming to be much larger than he thought.
Is your God too small and narrow?