Our country has struggled with race relations from the very beginning. Racism is not an American problem, it’s a people problem. It is a reality that many of us have to face daily while seems to avoid the attention and justice it deserves. In this week’s message, Pastor Sean talks about how racial division was evident even in the very first church but it didn’t take long for God to straighten their thinking out. While we might be divided as a nation, there are things those who follow God can do to bring about change in their hearts, change in their communities, and in our country as they pursue justice, love, and mercy.



Our country has struggled with race relations since its founding and before.

  • What you may not know, is that first church of Jerusalem had the same problem
  • It didn’t take God long to straighten them out
  • Today, I want see what we can learn from them


We’re in Acts 11 but…

  • Acts 9, God calls a Jewish Rabbi zealot who killed Christians
    • “Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles, and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.”
    • Why him? His past became the platform
  • Acts 10, God calls Peter to take the message of Jesus to Cornelius, a Roman centurion in Caesarea

Peter goes back to Jerusalem and this happened…

Acts 11:1-2, “Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.”

  • He got called in because he was talking with people who were “less than”
  • Racism isn’t an American problem, it’s a people problem
  • Peter retells the dream

Acts 11:15-18, “15 “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. 16 Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” 18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God.

  • There are only two types of people: those who have repented of their sins and those who haven’t, yet


God sees no distinction between a person’s race, culture, language, ethnicity, hair texture, or nation of origin.

  • PROBLEM: the disciples did
  • God was calling them to an identity that supersedes all others.
  • Their identity as a child of God and follower of Jesus was to shape their Jewish expression and not the other way around.


RIGHT HERE, God levels the playing field for everyone.


If you are a follower of Jesus, you must value EVERY life as highly as you value ANY life.


Two things happen right here:

  1. From now on everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment of Salvation
  2. The first multi-racial churches are planted in Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch


Acts 11:22-26 “22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)”

The very first “Christians” were the followers of Jesus in the first multi-racial church.


Acts 13:1-3, “Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man” ), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas ), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”

  • A Jew, an African, a Roman, a Greek and another Jewish man
  • THESE are the guys God calls to change the rest of the known world
    • The rest of the Acts is the story of THIS church and their work to reach the world
    • Wasn’t the church of Jerusalem, where everyone looked the same, spoke the same, thought the same, lived the same
    • It was the church who represented the people groups around them, who chose to identify more with Jesus than the things that had previously divided them


We’re really good at dividing ourselves from others. We’ve never been more divided as a country.

  • It isn’t just the politics AROUND us; it’s the brokenness IN us
  • If we were all the same party, the same language, the same neighborhood, the same color…we’d still divide over something (age, income, education, careers, right/left hand, curly/straight hair

Gal 2:11-12, “But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.”

  • He was afraid of what people would think

So Paul confronted him

  • Why? Peter backed away and Paul saw this injustice and knew he was now responsible for it.
  • Because this is what God always called his people to do
  • Micah 6:8, “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”
    • Seek justice, right those things you see that are wrong
    • Love the idea that those who are guilty don’t have to get all they deserve
    • Behave cautiously because you know what you deserve from God

Jesus echoed this, “forgive us as we forgive others”, “judgement against YOUR sins will be as severe as your judgement on others for THEIR sins.”


2 Cor 5:16-17, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

We don’t look at people the same way, once we become followers of Jesus

  • the old me is gone
  • I’m made new, I have a new identity
  • My calling is the same as Saul and the members of the first church of Antioch
  • To do/work for what’s right, to love/offer mercy, and walk humbly
  • To love, support and encourage those who follow Jesus with me and love, serve, and reach out to those who do not follow him yet.



I’m asking you today, who you see as the “less than”

  • Race
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Political Affiliation
  • Experience, Age, Generation

I’m asking you to ask repent of this and to find your identity in your relationship with Jesus


What injustice have you seen in the world?

  • Who lacks opportunity?
  • Who is in need?
  • Who is disadvantaged (family, financial, educational)?

Ask what advantage you have (Roman passport) that you can leverage to help them

Application Questions

1. What stood out to you from this message and why?

2. What is one thing God is telling you to START doing because of this message?

3. What is one thing God is telling you to STOP doing because of this message?

4. How will this message change how you act at home, work and in the your relationships?