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What God has called clean, do not call common

Today I flew to another university to give a lecture. En route I wrestled with one of my usual ghosts: all of this stuff I will say at the lecture, what does it have to do with God’s glory and purpose?

During these depressive moments I usually compare myself with others. Those in the ministry, for example, are serving God “full time.” Certainly they can say their lives are occupied with God’s business. And then there are my friends in engineering or medicine. They deal in fields with actual useful knowledge; they spend their days actually bettering the lives of others.

Me, I’m in design and the humanities. Sometimes it all just seems like hot air. Even as one student said to me years ago, “Dave (and that’s all he called me – not Professor Wang) – Dave, you just made all this stuff up, didn’t you?” Never mind that I am published in international journals, and have co-authored and edited books; that charge will haunt me forever. I just made it all up, didn’t I?

Then the word came to me: “What God has called clean, do not call common.”

Those words were spoken to Peter when, just prior to bringing the Good News to the Gentiles, he saw a large sheet descending from heaven; in it were all sorts of unclean animals. He heard a voice: “arise and eat.” And Peter responded: “no way! I have never eaten anything unclean.”

He then heard it: “What God has called clean, do not call common.”

It is not the content of the words; it is the vessel the words come forth from. That is where the testimony will come from.

I am a Gentile made clean by God. My worth is not in my occupation; it is in my having been made clean because of Christ in me the hope of glory.

Even what I say, if it is borne out of Christ’s life in me, will have the stamp of that cleanness. My hope must be that God, who sustains this world and all of the people who come to hear lectures even if those lectures are not sermons but only lectures rooted in the vessel’s recognition that all truth is God’s truth … my hope must be that that God is somehow much bigger than my pessimism. My hope and my confidence is that he will not only be okay with it; he will anoint me in giving the lecture, because he anointed me in preparing it, in ways I cannot fully comprehend now.

His salvation of me is bigger than I think it is. And it is cleaner than I think it is.


Acts 10.14-15 But Peter said, By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice came to him again a second time, What God has made clean, do not call common.


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