BUILDING BRIDGES AND OPENING DOORS

Pawleys IslandPhoto by Tracey Lewis

Pawleys Island
Photo by Tracey Lewis

Continuing our study in Acts at the jail brought us to chapter 10. The chapter opens by introducing us to a man named Cornelius, a God fearing, Italian, military man in charge of 100 men. Although he wasn’t Jewish he apparently worshipped the God of the Jews. The term God fearing probably means he was involved in the Jewish community, at least when it comes to prayer and alms giving, but not quite willing to be circumcised or live fully according to the Torah. Whatever the case may be his attentiveness toward God eventually got God’s attention.

There came a day when Cornelius had an Angelic visitor. He reassured Cornelius that his prayers and offering had been noticed by God and instructed him to send someone to retrieve Peter. He even gave him directions on where to find him. So that’s exactly what he did; he sent a few men to Joppa to find Peter.

Meanwhile in Joppa Peter was on the rooftop praying. It was about time to eat and while the others were downstairs preparing food Peter was given a vision. He was shown a sheet full of, what could be described as, unclean animals and told to kill and eat them. Of course Peter being the dietary law abiding, Jew that he was responded saying, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Of course this isn’t exactly what God was trying to tell him so it took three tries before Peter got the message. God was really showing him that He was opening the door of salvation to the Gentiles and Peter himself was to participate. By the time the men from Cornelius arrived Peter knew he was to go with them and he invited them in to stay the night.

On the next day they traveled to Cornelius’ house and upon arriving everyone bowed down as if to worship Peter. Peter told them “Stand up; I too am just a man.” He then proceeded to share the gospel message with the whole household. While Peter told them the truth of Christ the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening. All of the Jews with Peter were amazed but couldn’t deny that God had in fact received these Gentiles in the same way he had received them. What an amazing story of how God opens doors and builds bridges.

After an overview of this chapter one thing that stuck out to me was the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing people of completely different races and backgrounds together. In fact I would venture to say without the Holy Spirit it could never happen. Sin is the cause of separation, racism, hatred, envy etc. But I am so thankful God looks through all of those surface differences and sees the heart. He saw Cornelius was seeking him so he met him where he was and invited him in. He revealed the opening of the door to the Gentiles to Peter and he knew it was God speaking.

Think about how the prejudices of Peter, a law abiding Jew, had to be rearranged before he could even go into Cornelius’ house, much less eat with him. On the other hand Cornelius may have had to overcome some prejudices of his own. Sometime it isn’t easy to be teachable by those that are different than us. After all, Cornelius was an Italian leader of men and yet he was willing to allow Peter, the Jewish fisherman, teach him. This type of bonding and openness really only comes about by way of the Holy Spirit’s work; for without it there really isn’t anything within man able to do this type of thing. Of course we do have a choice to make. Our part is to flip the switch as Brian Coatney said. The Spirit of God within us tells us what’s going on and he moves us to flip the switch but ultimately it is up to us to flip it. He led Cornelius to send for Peter but he had to actually tell the men to go. With Peter, God showed him Gentiles were no longer to be considered unclean and he wanted him to go enter one’s home but it was up to Peter to go. So God took them to a certain point but in the end they both had to flip the switch and let it be.

Written by Louie

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