Acts 17:26-27 - “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
We live in a world filled with racial issues, ethnic divides and a struggle to understand cultural and religious differences. I find this passage a welcome reminder that this has all been planned by God and we need to remember and apply this teaching from Paul.
There are two incredibly significant statements contained in this reading. The first statement, that “from one man he made all the nations” tells us that God’s world is for everyone. The second statement, that “he marked out…the boundaries of their lands” supports the first statement and adds a twist that He intended for His people to live in different nations.
I believe the first statement speaks to physical differences, those of complexion or color for example, and signifies that while we may look different now, we started from the same blood. Therefore, the treatment of anyone in God’s kingdom based on physical differences is not to be condoned by any means. I find that most (though sadly not all) Christians agree relatively easily with the concept that the color of one’s skin makes no difference in the eyes of God.
The challenge and the revelation for me can be found in the second statement, which speaks to different nations and lands. This likely refers to differences in customs or beliefs. This is where society tends to get more uncomfortable. But if God has laid out the world intentionally into different lands and boundaries, he has done this knowing that such geographical boundaries would lead to different ways of thinking that lead to different customs, beliefs and even religions.
The reading goes on to say that all these people should seek Him and reach out to Him. So if all people, regardless of complexion or color OR even beliefs or customs, are to seek Him, shouldn’t we also be accepting of them? I believe this to indicate that all the people of the world are our brothers and sisters, regardless of our differences. I find it revealing, and even inspiring, that God planned for such differences so specifically!
I pray that I can be more accepting of those from other lands that may look, think or act differently from me. I pray that as a society we can look past such differences and accept all the children of God equally. Amen.