Before you read on, I would encourage you to click on this link and read Acts 10 & 11 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+10-11&version=NIV
This story is a big transition for the early church. What God here in the lives of Cornelius and Peter is so important. If this story didn’t happen, we would have to wonder if the Gospel would have reached us? This story shows how the Gospel moved beyond just reaching the Jews and into the lives and hearts of Gentiles (basically non-Jews).
However a few things we need to understand.
1. God is at work reaching people far from Him.
It wasn’t even close to being on the apostle’s radar to bring the Gospel to people like Cornelius. After all, in some respects, he represents the enemy, Rome. He is not a Jew and is unclean from their religious traditions. What we see here, as well as other areas in Scripture, is that God is at work reaching people far from Him. Yes, unfortunately Peter and the other apostles more than likely would not have brought the Gospel to them. But did that stop God from stirring in their hearts? Not at all. God was working in the hearts of people whom we so often over look, whom we so often don’t want to share Jesus with.
2. God had to change the heart of those in the church.
Yes. Sometimes those in the church are the biggest obstacle from God reaching those far from Him. We see God working in Cornelius’ life and then we see God having to change Peter’s heart. This was no small deal. Peter was a Jew and he knew what they were and were not to do. But now the Gospel is out on the move (which by the way is the great leveler) and the old way of doing things has changed (actually it really hasn’t from God’s perspective…read God’s call to Abraham). Peter’s heart had to be converted to what God was doing. And as the story goes the Holy Spirit was leading and directing this whole cosmic set up, which He still does today. This was also a risk for Peter because he knew how this would look to the church back in Jerusalem. Speaking of which…
3. Moving with God often invokes criticism within the church…initially.
God was moving in Cornelius’ heart and changing Peter’s. God was on the move and it was risky because it was shaky up how things have been done for years. Peter experienced a move of God in the hearts of Gentiles and realized that the Gospel is for everyone. But in Acts 11:2, we see that those within the church criticized Peter for associating with Gentiles. They didn’t like what their leader did. They didn’t understand why. All they knew was their tradition and deemed Peter’s action worthy for criticism. Peter didn’t get defensive. As a leader he understood why they would because he too had to be worked on by God prior going. So Peter shared what God said to him and then shared what God did while he was with Cornelius and his crew.
You see initially they criticized, but after hearing how God set it up they glorified God for what He was doing (Acts 11:18). So…
4. We must ask ourselves, “Are we in the way of God moving in our church?”
Peter asked that same question in Acts 11:17. Here’s the thing, God knows that sometimes to move where He is moving maybe hard for us to understand initially. God is the one who changes hearts. God is the one who is at work in reaching all people. We need to ask are we open to God’s leading? Are we open to God changing hearts? Are we ok with doing things differently to move with God? If at first it’s hard to understand and our initial response is to criticize, there’s grace for that. BUT if our hearts do not line up after hearing and understanding that God is at work in it, then there’s a heart issue there.
So ask yourself, who is God putting on my heart that I’m refusing to be near? To share Jesus with?
Ask yourself, am I in the way of God moving in my life, in another’s life, or in the church?
Folks! Let’s be Brave and listen to Jesus and do what He says!