10 A man named Cornelius lived in Caesarea. He was a Roman commander in the Italian Regiment. 2 Cornelius and all his family were faithful and worshiped God. He gave freely to people who were in need. He prayed to God regularly. 3 One day about three o’clock in the afternoon he had a vision. He saw clearly an angel of God. The angel came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius was afraid. He stared at the angel. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to poor people are like an offering to God. So he has remembered you. 5 Now send men to Joppa. Have them bring back a man named Simon. He is also called Peter. 6 He is staying with another Simon, a man who works with leather. His house is by the sea.” 7 The angel who spoke to him left. Then Cornelius called two of his servants. He also called a godly soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened. Then he sent them to Joppa.
In the Jewish tradition, Cornelius would have had a hard time to earn the description “devout man who feared God.” We see evidence of this unacceptability later in Acts 10 when Peter answers his invitation but hesitates to share a meal with him. I wonder if a modern comparison would almost be like having an alcoholic claim that they have had a message from an angel of God that they needed to invite a Southern Baptist (traditionally non-drinking Christian denomination) to their local pub for a round of beers.
The point here is not necessarily about what Christians can and cant engage in, but to be aware that God created us all and loves the world so much that he sent his only begotten son to die for all of our sins. God can and does communicate with people outside Christianity, whether we like it or not! Lets pray that if we play Peter’s role in their lives that we will be sensitive to God’s invite and not our own preconceptions of how people will come to know Christ.
Written by Justin Ware