Acts 11:1-18 CEB
When I hear Peter recounting his vision, I think of Finn from Adventure time being faced with a difficult decision:
From Adventure Time: Season 1, Episode 18: Freak City
For Peter, the epic decision was whether to eat the unclean meat. For Finn the decision was whether to give the man the piece of sugar. Peter ultimately decides not to eat the meat, and Finn ultimately decides to give the man the sugar. Both discover they made poor choices. For both, what initially appeared to be good & right was wrong. Finn did discover the hobo was really a magic man, but the hobo was also a self professed jerk who liked to trick heroes into doing good deeds in order to reward them with something terrible. Finn's good deed was rewarded by being turned into a huge, nice smelling foot. Peter, in like manner, was told "When God says something can be used for food, don't say it isn't fit to eat." And Peter, the zealous follower he is, has to be told this three times! He just doesn't believe it the first and second time. Hey, appears Peter has a "three times" issue, doesn't he?
What draws Peter and Finn together is this: We need to stop following protocol and start doing the right thing. Sometimes we confuse social edict with what is truly right. Laws, regulations, and standards all serve important purposes, but they should always be put next to God's love. If the law, regulation, or standard goes against God's love instead of with it, one needs to be prepared to break the law in order to do what is right. In this way, the law, which might have served a purpose at one point, has become a communal sin. Communal sins must always be broken, but those in the right have to be willing to accept the punishment for breaking them. This is part of what makes them communal sins.
It comes down to this: Any time we make lazy decisions it can lead to poor results. Both Finn and Peter engage in lazy decision making. Good decision making would be seeking the correct action by asking more questions. When Jake suggested feeding the homeless man was a bad idea, Finn should have followed it up by asking the man more questions. It might have saved Finn the heartache of being transformed into a large nice smelling foot. When Peter was told to eat the unclean meat he could have responded with more questions instead of saying no right away. It might have saved him from being humbled by his triad of denial yet again.
When we come across those who share a slightly different theology than us, we need to engage them with questions. Either us or them might come away with a slightly different theology when the conversation is done. Yes, we need to follow rules, regulations, and standards, but we should always be vigilant in doing so. We shouldn't be lazy in our obedience. The moment what God wants shifts from what we have made law, we should change the law and we should be bold in making that change. God didn't call us to be lazy.