S (Scripture): Acts 10:34 Then Peter started speaking: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, 35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him…”
O (Observation): Peter is summoned by the Spirit to appear before Cornelius, a soldier of the Italian Cohort, but who was also a God-fearing man.
They have a conversation about a vision revealed to Peter – a picnic blanket lowered from heaven full of “unclean animals.”
Peter and Cornelius would know to avoid unclean animals for food. Yet now Peter applies what he’s learned about cleanliness and applies it to people. Now, even if people do not acknowledge the cleanliness laws, but they fear the Lord and do good in response to that grace, they will be welcomed before the Lord.
Finally, the message that was always meant for the whole world is now being sent to the whole world. No longer do Jews only have the Lord…but all who fear the Lord and do what is right. Regardless of nation or skin color or language.
A (Application): This message from Peter and Cornelius have huge implications for teaching within the church today. Who is in? Who is out?
As a church that is welcoming to all people, some feel like we are not challenging folks enough to conform to a life in Christ. That people can come into our circles and do whatever they want. This statement above does not allow for that path.
Instead, I help teach folks that Jesus invites us all into a journey together in which we are to fear the Lord AND do good in response to this grace. Otherwise, it’s all for naught.
We are all welcome into the Lord’s family. We follow Jesus and his ways and we are in. This all takes faith instilled in us through the Holy Spirit, bestowed upon us by God.
What has been challenging you lately about who is “Christian” or not?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see that you wish for all of us to fear you, and yet walk with joy the paths you have laid out before us. Amen.