Cornelius was a commander in the Roman army that killed Jesus. Even so, he was a man with his heart bent toward God. He prayed constantly and one day, not long after Jesus rose from the dead, God answered him. I’m not sure what Cornelius was praying for, but my perspective is that when a heart is praying, they want to see God. When I am praying, more often than specifics, I pray for perspective. I want to see Him beyond the distractions of what I can naturally see.
God sent an angel who told Cornelius to go find Peter.
Meanwhile, Peter was on his roof praying and he got hungry. While he was preparing his food, he had a vision. A white sheet came down from heaven and covered the earth. Animals of all different kinds were on the sheet and God told Peter to kill an animal and eat it. Peter refused, saying that he had never eaten anything that was common or unclean. God told Peter never to call common what He has made clean.
Peter was trying to figure out what the vision meant when Cornelius was approaching his house. These two men didn’t know each other. Cornelius represented the enemy and Peter was at the beginning of his Jesus ministry. God told Peter that three men were looking for him and he was to go with them.
The next day, Peter went home with Cornelius. When he entered the room where all of these men were, Peter said, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” (Acts 10:28-29)
Cornelius explained about the angel and that whatever Peter had to say was the reason he was brought.
So, Peter shared the Gospel. He told them that “anyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” (Acts 10:43)
The message is that no person is unclean or common. Not anymore. Because of Jesus, we are in a new legacy built by Him and all are included. It’s a sweeping net, gathering everything in its path. It’s a sheet that covers the earth. There are no divisions between what was once clean and unclean. They are all redeemed by God through Jesus.
While Peter was explaining this, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard him. Everyone who heard this truth was saved.
This story tells me four things:
- There are no longer any divisions.
- If you want to know the truth, He’ll bring it to you.
- The message that God has for people is the truth about what Jesus accomplished.
- If you are there, they are ready to hear it.
If there are no longer any divisions, then there is no place, no person, nothing that God has not included in His salvation. Any division that you see is only caused by unbelief and you have a message that the Holy Spirit can clarify within them.
I love what Peter says: “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.”
It takes the wind out of the sails in the sea of judgment.
Keep your heart open to God revealing something about your walk of faith that you may have, at one time, rejected. God is not bound by human tradition and if you’re really after the truth, no matter what it is, He’ll show you.
There is no other message for you to be sending. Jesus is it. If what God is showing you feels too risky to share, then it is your own fear of rejection that is hindering you. Have you ever shared insight, especially concerning God’s sweeping love for those who the rest of the world deem unclean, and were rejected by people who used to be on your side? Did you back down to save face? The Gospel is simple, but the implications are hard for the human mind to grasp. Your life is a journey deeper and deeper into those implications and if you remain true to them, you will lose ‘followers’. Jesus did and anybody else who is not afraid to speak up will, too. Your ministry is not your creation. It’s God’s.
Where ever you are is where you are supposed to be. Whoever is listening to you is ready to hear it. It doesn’t matter if they strike out at you, walk away from you, or tell you that you’re heading in a dangerous direction. You have to be strong in your private time to be able to take the rejection in the public time. Don’t back away from the Holy Spirit injected insight. Don’t be weak in the faith. This is hard work. Who are you trying to please?
The story about Cornelius and Peter shows that God is not going to speak through you a message that He has not already built a home for in another. Don’t be afraid, just tell the Truth.
You can read all of Acts 10 to get more insight than I have shared here.