Do you have favorite Scripture that God has used to move you along your journey? One of mine is the passage found in Acts 10. The passage is about the divine connection made between Peter and Cornelius. One morning during my quiet time, I was contemplating this passage. I wondered about the significance of Peter and Cornelius’ meeting. Peter had to be willing to go where he was forbidden by his law to go. In his vision, God spoke to Peter to eat things that Peter considered as “unclean.” God told Peter He had already made those things clean. By God’s hand, He made all things in heaven and on earth. He declared in Genesis 1:31 all that He had made was very good.
Peter had to remove his old thinking and replace it with a new mindset. Peter was contemplating the meaning of his vision when visitors arrived who would take him to Cornelius. Peter took one step out of his comfort zone into a divine encounter. Peter’s vision was about “unclean” food, but God was giving Peter a new understanding that nothing made by God’s hand is unclean – and that includes all human beings. Jews and Gentiles did not meet. It was against their religion to associate with Gentiles. There was a barrier that God created in the beginning in order to separate the wickedness from His chosen people. And the Jews took that to an extreme. God set aside the Jewish people but that didn’t mean that they were any better than their fellow-man. Their thinking needed to be changed.
Cornelius was already on a path that respected God. He was already worshiping God and giving to the poor. He was already doing the things he knew to do, but it was not complete. He needed further information. I have seen this pattern repeated in Scripture such as the encounter found in Acts 18. Apollos was also in need of further information which was supplied by Priscilla and Aquila. When our understanding isn’t complete, God sends someone to tell the rest of the story. There were divine encounters that furthered the Gospel message. Apollos went on to preach the Gospel throughout his world. Paul mentioned Apollos in 1 Corinthians 1:12 as one of the preachers that believers “followed” along with Paul and Peter. Apollos must have been significant in moving the Gospel forward.
Back to Cornelius. Cornelius was a military man from the Italian regiment, which means he probably went back to Rome at some point. As I am contemplating these divine encounters, I wondered if he was the first messenger to Rome. When Paul wrote to the Romans, there was already a church planted. Who was the first one to take the message to the Romans? Was it Cornelius? Was this his divine connection with Peter that set up the wave of Christians to that part of the world? I would have to believe this is what took place. God gives us a small story that forms the larger context of taking the message throughout the world. I immediately thought of the Ethiopian eunuch that was encountered by Philip in Acts 9. Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to a specific road for the encounter with a man who would take the Gospel to the continent of Africa. It’s the small stories that take on the larger story of getting the message across – God so loved the world that He sent His Son; not to condemn the world but to save it.
We may feel that we have nothing to share, but God can use us for divine encounters for God’s ultimate glory! Peter heard the voice and was obedient to the task. Philip started out as soon as he heard the voice. As I stated previously, God used this same passage to move me to my current city – it’s now been almost sixteen years ago. Why did God call me here? I do believe I needed further information. I didn’t have the complete story. I haven’t had the divine encounter (that I know of) to take the Gospel message to my world, except through this written word. It’s not much, but if I am faithful to what I am called to do, maybe someone along the way will be changed by it. That’s my prayer anyway.
If I had not made the move, I never would have met the people I was supposed to meet to get me where I needed to be. My old thinking had to be changed. Sometimes it takes a move of God to help us see greater things than we could ever imagine. Never discount what God wants to do through our small obedience in these “little” decisions – it could impact a world! Cornelius, Apollos and Philip are good examples of what a little obedience could do for God’s glory!
The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. Then Peter began to speak: “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. Acts 10:22-23, 34-35