Crossroads: Doing What’s Right

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Acts 11:1-18/h3>

Your Story

Have you ever done the right thing and gotten in trouble because people thought it was the wrong thing? What happened? Did you help them see that it was right, or did you get in trouble anyway?

My Story and the Bible Story

In November 2014, a 90-year old pastor was arrested in Florida for feeding the homeless. You read that correctly: he was arrested for trying to help the homeless. The city of Fort Lauderdale passed a law saying that it was illegal to share food in public. According to the city, the law was passed to help stop the cycle of homelessness. But people like this pastor believe that the city was simply trying to make homeless people move to a different city. He believes that Jesus calls us to care for the homeless, and so he decided to continue to feed them, even though he could go to jail.

This sounds like a crazy story. Of course the pastor was doing the right thing by trying to make sure that everyone was fed. And yet he was arrested for doing the right thing. He got in trouble for doing what’s right. Something similar happened to Peter in the book of Acts. Read Acts 11:1-18. From the NIV: “The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

In the text, Peter got in trouble for doing the right thing, for going into Cornelius’ house and telling them about Jesus. He didn’t get in trouble because he told him about Jesus; instead, the Christians in Jerusalem criticized him for going into the house of Gentiles. Jews weren’t supposed to spend time with Gentiles because Gentiles didn’t believe in God. Even though these Jews were now Christians, they were still holding on to the same rules. But after Peter told his story, they realized that Jesus was for everyone. After that, they stopped criticizing Peter and realized that he had done the right thing, because he did what God told him to do.

Sometimes we get in trouble for doing the right thing. But if we continue to do what God wants us to do, then He will be pleased with us. And doing what God wants us to do is so much more important than getting in trouble. The pastor in Florida knew that it was more important for him to feed the homeless and do what God wanted him to do than it was to be worried about going to jail. This pastor and Peter’s story remind us that God’s opinion is a lot more important than the opinion of others. And it’s more important to do the right thing, even if you get in trouble.

Discussion

• Ask your children if they’ve ever gotten in trouble for doing the right thing. Have them talk about what happened.
• Ask if they know someone who has gotten in trouble for doing the right thing and what happened.
• Remind them that doing the right thing can be hard, especially if you can get in trouble, but it’s always worth it.

Prayer

Ask God for courage to do the right thing, even if you’ll get in trouble. Pray that God will show others the right thing to do.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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