ACTS 10 – the whole chapter
We are going through Acts 10 today. The whole chapter details this interaction between Peter and a man named Cornelius. The account goes something like this: An angel of God visited a Godly man named Cornelius and told him to send men to go get Peter from Joppa. So, he obediently sent servants to fetch Peter. The next day (while these servants were on the way) Peter saw a vision where God called him to eat unclean food. He quickly reminded God that wasn’t “correct to do,” and that he had always been obedient in NOT doing this. God states it this three times and said “What God has made clean do not call impure.” Perplexed, Peter started to think about this vision and wonder what it meant… while he is pondering the meaning the servants from Cornelius show up! They petition him to come with them and he agrees. The next day they head out towards Cornelius’ house. When they arrived, Peter goes in and says “you know I shouldn’t be in here according to Jewish law. It is illegal for me, a clean Jew, to enter an unclean Gentile’s home. HOWEVER God has told me to not call anyone impure or unclean. Why have you asked me to come here?” Essentially, it seems Peter thought the extent of what he was called to do was be willing to ENTER the home. Cornelius tells Peter about the vision and Peter respond with “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” He realizes that God didn’t want him to stop there but God wanted to offer this beautiful, once exclusive gift, to the “unclean.” So he preaches the Gospel of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and the Spirit falls on everyone who is present.
God calls Peter to step out against tradition and what his “norm” was and that is where the ministry of the Spirit was carried out. Not behind years of tradition. If Peter had been obstinate in his tradition, not seeking a difference in the norm, not able to push against the Jewish law and standard, he would NOT have experienced the Spirit. He would have missed this massive pouring out of the Spirit.
Again, it is when we push past our standards and traditions and begin to seek Spiritual direction daily this is when we see a newness poured out on our lives!
So that’s hopefully something you’ve heard a bunch from me. So what’s new? Let’s look closely at what Peter says “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” He says ANYONE… believers or unbelievers. We think that it should be “I should not call unclean anyone who God calls clean”… but it doesn’t say that. We want to shuv this into a box that refers to judging believers. However, Peter points out a new reality in life now: It is not our job to observe clean vs unclean, valuable vs worthless, loved or unloved…. God doesn’t call us to evaluate whether or not people are useful for God.
It is not our job to determine the usefulness of someone who may be overwhelmed in sin, covered with disgusting marks of their past mistakes, marred with a history of lawlessness. We are not called to evaluate people’s lives and determine if they are of enough worth for us to step out and share the Gospel. You may not think about this as an issue… but… how often are you sharing the Gospel? Are you looking at that gas station attendant in light of his/her eternity and risk of burning in hell? Or do you shrug off responsibility for that because “there are churches everywhere.” Have you determined the value in terms of salvation of those in a third world country as higher than your neighbor who annoys you? We are responding to God’s call to disciple and share the Gospel just like Peter did: “Surely not, Lord” Are you reminding God how things should work according to you?
There’s a world of dying people out here in the world. They are careening towards an eternity separated from God. With or without realizing it, have you determined the value of your neighbors and those around you?
God I do not see the urgency. I do not see the passion you have for those around me who are being tormented by the enemy. Help my heart to break for them too, not just the “starving kids in Africa.” Help my heart to not assign value, but instead just be obedient. You have asked us to go and make disciples!!! I pray I am obedient in that everywhere I go.
Are you being obedient?