11 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ 8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
V 18 msg: “God has broken through to the other nations, opened them up to Life!”
God always prepares us. I think of Peter a devout Jew and then born again through Christ, however still culturally Jewish. He would have held mindsets and traditions of people and animals that were “unclean” to him. Traditions going back centuries that would have separated him from sharing the gospel with everyone.
God prepares Peter with a vision. God prepares Cornelius with an angel. The two come together after a 54 kilometre journey (Joppa to Caesarea) and the Holy Spirit falls on them all. He had barely spoken a few words and this powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit in their lives brings these unknown people together, now as “God’s family” – brothers and sisters.
God loves the cultures and the people of this world. He wants us to be willing to get out of our comfort zones and reach EVERYONE.
I have prayed for years for the people of Iran. Having lived there as a child, I now see in our church answers to my prayers. We have 60+ Iranian believers in our church and the privilege of journeying life with them. So my prayer is that our church would look like heaven – we would have one from every nation of the world.
Lord help each of us not to look at what divides us or what is different about us, but help us to embrace you and one another in the midst of our journeys. Help us to reach out to others no matter where they come from on the earth. Give us your heart of love and peace.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta