Acts 10:45-47 (NRSV)
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
Reflection – Mary Carol Tazewell
So who is in and who is out? Jeffery D. Peterson Davis says, “In this brief text we find exemplified the extravagance of the Holy Spirit and the wideness of God’s grace. This story demonstrates that the Spirit is not bound by the limitations that even faithful believers have.” Grace knows no bounds and love knows no limits. Why then does righteousness prevail around what we believe and who is invited to believe it with us? Why do we build walls which God’s grace and love flow right through? It seems rather superfluous.
Davis continues, “Neither society nor the church has overcome racism, sexism, classism, ageism, nationalism, heterosexism, and other prejudices. We continue to propagate segregation in many forms as we hold firm to the visible and invisible boundaries between “us” and “them.”
Peter confronts the dilemma. Various translations pose options for us.
“Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” (NIV)
“Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” (NLT)
“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (NKJV)
Stand in the way, object, forbid. Familiar? Let no person stand in the way, object to or forbid what the Spirit gifts to humankind. We have been ordered, to baptize, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Let the waters flow with grace and love!