In Acts 10-11 is the amazing story of the outreaching of the Gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles. Briefly, the Lord sent Jewish Peter to Gentile Cornelius’ house to teach him the Gospel. He and those he gathered to hear were open to hearing and received the Holy Spirit. They were all baptized. That’s not an amazing recounting but it is an amazing story! If you don’t know it, you should go read it! Here are five quick lessons from the story of Cornelius:
God is the only One who gets to choose who He will call. God told Jewish Peter to go down to Gentile Cornelius’ house … he didn’t want to do it. He was revolted by the idea to his own core because of his upbringing and the context of his training. God’s plan to call Cornelius was not negotiable based on Peter’s weakness. You do not get to choose who is good enough. The very one whose heart is open to Jesus might be the the one you decided wasn’t worthy.
God is the only One who sees the heart of the person you are judging. Peter couldn’t believe this assignment. Could he lower himself to go to the scummy pagan Gentile’s house and actually go inside? Peter judged Cornelius along with all Gentiles, God saw a good man who was searching for more. When you dismiss an entire class, type, race, or segment of people, you may very well be turning away a Cornelius. Are there devout people living by the light they have, seeking more light, but unable to stretch beyond their circumstances? God sees them.
God is the only One who should direct our paths. Peter had a decision to make. Who is his Lord? Once that decision is made then the decision to follow is made. When we let our own heritage, preferences, conclusions, and judgments determine if we are willing to reach out with the gospel message, we are listening to the wrong voice. Where is God calling you to bring good news today?
God is the only One who is truly aware of our defeats and our triumphs. Even as Peter enters Cornelius’ house he reminds them that this is highly unusual. In fact, I’m sure he knows he will have to defend these actions before those higher in authority than he. But after recognizing his initial failure to follow, Peter engaged the mission of God in an awesome way. Don’t let your trip-ups be the end of the story. God was aware of the good deeds of an unsaved Gentile military commander. He sees it all. He sees your heart as well.
God is the only One to whom we should pray. Both Peter and Cornelius enter this account in prayer. Ultimately they both were able to bless one another because they were open to the Lord, spending time seeking Him in prayer. We should never say we can’t change or we can’t obey God … it won’t always be easy, but God gave them the strength to create a historic moment in Christian history.
“May the Lord teach us to love those who are different from us. May He give us the ability to see them through His eyes. May he forgive us for our false judgments and misconceptions and and break down any barrier of fear so that we will be able to share His love with those who have not experienced it.” – Kristin Reeg, Bible Expositor and Illuminator, Fall 2015
Thanks for reading, JD