This entire chapter is about God bringing Peter and Cornelius together. This would’ve been a completely unlikely pairing at the time because Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, and Cornelius was definitely a Gentile even though he worshiped God. In fact, according to Jewish law, he was considered unclean and would never have been given full access to God. Jews weren’t even allowed to associate with him or visit him. But, that all changed when Jesus came, and God used Peter and Cornelius to be a HUGE example of this.
The whole thing starts with visions the Lord gives to both Cornelius and Peter. Cornelius sends some of his people to go get Peter, and Peter invites them in to stay with him. (This was a big no-no at the time. See above.) Then Peter went back with them. He shared the gospel with Cornelius and all his friends and family. And while he was doing so, the Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his crew (ala Pentecost), which completely baffled the disciples who were there. Then Cornelius invited Peter and his friends to stay with him. (Another big no-no at the time.)
This is such a perfect illustration of what church is supposed to look like. Peter was on a mission to make disciples. He wanted to invite as many people to the party as he could. And it was not up to him to pick and choose who got invitations. So, of course he has no problem going to a Roman soldier to share the gospel when God calls him there. And look at the result! So many people who came to faith that day!
It makes me wonder who my “Corneliuses” are. (Totally not sure how to make that word plural!) Who are the people that are being excluded or feel unwelcome that I can intentionally seek out? And what biases (whether conscious or unconscious) do I have that are keeping me from seeing those people?
I’m sure I have them. We all do. But I don’t want to. I don’t ever want to be a barrier to someone knowing Jesus when I’m supposed to be the exact opposite of that. I don’t ever want to do anything that will keep someone away from Jesus when I’m supposed to be bringing people to him.
I definitely need the Lord’s help with this. I need for him to show me where those biases are so I can get rid of them. I need him to open my eyes to the people I’m not seeing. I need him to show me the people who are on the fringes, the ones sitting on the back row, the ones looking in from just outside the circle, the ones that no one else would even consider pursuing.
I want to have this Peter and Cornelius story happen over and over and over. Not because I’m some amazing person who would make those interactions happen, but because Jesus died to save EVERYONE, and he alone can overcome any barrier to any person receiving his saving grace. I just want to be an instrument of that so that I can say over and over and over again that Jesus changed the life of someone who the world had cast aside.
If God shows no partiality, then I can’t either.