October 26, 2014
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
God uses food to teach us how to reach out to outsiders.
Acts 10 Scene 1: In Caesarea, Cornelius (a Gentile & Roman soldier) was a “God fearer” but still an outsider to Judaism because he was not circumcised and did not know about Jesus. Even though the Gentiles (Cornelius) were considered unclean ceremonially by the Jews, Cornelius followed the angel’s direction to get Peter (a Jew) 30 miles away in Joppa.
Acts 10 Scene 2: In Joppa, Peter falls into a trance while praying before dinner. In his vision the heaven opens with a large sheet containing reptiles and birds (a symbol of all God’s critters). Peter is hungry but these animals are unclean under Jewish law. Peter argues but God says, “Don’t call anything impure that I have called clean.” Then the Gentiles arrive (who are considered unclean).
Acts 10 Scene 3: At Cornelius’ house, Cornelius bows to Peter and calls together his family. Peter tells how the Gospel is for others in ALL the world. Acts 10:44 The Holy Spirit comes on all who heard the message. It is the same Holy Spirit that God had just given the Apostles a few months ago. Peter baptizes them as Christians and stays to eat food with the Gentiles (Cornelius & his family).
Three Parallels Between Peter’s Situation and Ours:
1. Like Peter, we have the mission of sharing the Gospel. Jesus said, “Go & make disciples of all nations.” Pray for opportunity to share Jesus with people. Believers are always looking for new friends to share Jesus with. New Christians stay & share with others when God gives opportunity to share the Gospel.
2. Like Peter, our mission includes both the likely candidates for God’s grace, as well as the unlikely (Cornelius and his family who are “unclean”.) Yes, we can come to Jesus without cleaning ourselves up first. We can bring our steaming hot life to Jesus as it is! We believe. Then we are welcomed to the Christian community, indwelled by the Holy Spirit for power, and transformed from within. Here at Grace we want to welcome both the likely and the unlikely, to go out of our way to welcome the unlikely!
3. Like Peter, we are not perfect but we are not alone. We can share the Gospel as we are, and the Holy Spirit goes before us and helps us (just as God was the one calling Peter and he obeyed).