The National Academy of Sciences released a study on an alarming trend among American families.  It is called “parental overvaluation.” Or mom and dad teaching Sammy and Sally that, “you’re such an exceptional child, so special that you’re entitled to a bigger share of the sandbox.”

One of the researchers says, “…the most harmful belief… is that they’re superior to others. ‘Men are better than women, my race is better than your race, my religion is superior to your religion.’” (Bushman)

Children raised in this type of home often grow up to become narcissists.

Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

What’s so astounding to the believers?

Congregational Responses:

That God would love “them” like “us,” the Gentile Pentecost would follow the Jerusalem Pentecost.

The law prohibiting association with Gentiles would be trumped by God’s welcome.

Pagans teaching Jews how to follow Jesus.

No one speaking up to object even though many wanted the water withheld in their hearts.

Narcissists enjoy the vain indulgence of special privileges, the erotic gratification of their own reflection. But even more disturbing than the child narcissist who beats her chest of conceit is the religious narcissist who beats his Bible of superiority.

“You can safety assume you’ve made God over in your own image,” says Anne Lamott, “when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

What’s so astounding to the believers?

That God shows no partiality, that our Father refuses to practice parental overvaluation, that pagan Gentiles from Rome and Jewish Christians from Jerusalem are not just made one in Christ but that we are all made average in Christ.

It’s hard to live an undistinguished life.  Yet, to be Christian is to be made ordinary, to be made the same.

Fred Craddock says the book of Acts chronicles the first church committee, Peter and the boys deliberating in the corner of the fellowship hall about the fitness of members.

Do we accept the centurion who waves his sword for the Empire?  What about the castrated eunuch up from Ethiopia?  The crippled beggar clanking his cup on the corner?  Tabby with her sewing circle and women’s collective?  Saul, the zealot Pharisee who persecutes believers for blood sport?

After each of the apostles checked their boxes yes and no, Peter started totaling the tallies until the Word fell on him and he realized that the vote isn’t ours to cast.  That the ballot box has been stuffed, the election rigged in favor of everyone.  And then the Holy Spirit fell upon the Church and all were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.