Peter’s prejudice and preaching the Good News

I was reading Acts chapter 10, and in this passage, Peter is hungry and waiting for dinner. He went to the roof to pray and fell into a trance; God showed him a few animals on a blanket and instructs Peter to kill it and eat. Peter declines to say, “By no means Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean” (Acts 10:14) and the Lord answers “What God has made clean, you must not call profane” (Acts 10:15).

Now, this was God’s way of communicating to Peter to address his prejudice towards the Gentiles (those who weren’t Jews) because according to tradition, Jews and Gentiles weren’t allowed associate together. However, there was a man named Cornelius, whom God wanted Peter to minister to and Cornelius wasn’t a Jew but a Gentile.

The amazing thing about this story is that Cornelius and his household were baptized in the Holy Spirit but also water baptized, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What Peter didn’t realize, was that Cornelius was devoted to God. That’s why God had to chastise Peter by telling him, that what He has cleansed, should not be considered unclean.

I’m sharing this so that we can all reflect. Have we been like Peter in circumstances, where we may have not allowed prejudice to persuade, but judgement, feelings, social norms to sway us from sharing the gospel with others?

After visiting Cornelius’ household, circumcised believers (a requirement in the law that Jews were to uphold), criticized Peter for eating with Gentiles. As Peter explains to them of the trance and the instruction that was given, he concludes to them in Acts 11:17

“If then God have them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”

We don’t get to determine who hears about Jesus. God instructed Peter to go with the 3 men (messengers of Cornelius) so that he could preach the gospel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they received salvation and Peter began to understand, why God sent that vision in Acts 10:13-15.

In John 12:32, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people unto myself”.

He is drawing people and how can people have a relationship with Christ, if they don’t know about him. That he came to the earth, came down in the flesh, humbled himself, walked among us, became sin, died on the Cross and rose again after the third day, so that we could live.

If we look at Phillip (Acts 8:26-39), an angel told Phillip to go a wilderness road between Jerusalem and Gaza.  He heard and obeyed. On the way, Phillip met an Ethiopian eunuch and ministered to him. The Ethiopian eunuch, having heard the revelation of Christ’s crucifixion, believed and was baptized.

If God placed someone along your path and leads you to them, will you be led by His Spirit or your feelings? Will you trust in His power or your beliefs that He can’t reach that person based on your own opinions?

We look at Jonah, who, through disobedience ran away but once God intercepted, he repented. And when he cried out against Ninevah, “because their wickedness has come up before Me”. That city repented and God forgave them. Jonah was upset but those people mattered to God.

You may share the gospel with someone and they can either accept or reject Jesus. If they accept, that’s great. If they don’t, that doesn’t mean you have failed but continue to pray for them. You have sown that seed in their heart and pray that the next Christian that comes across their path, would be obedient. They will water the seed but it will be God that gives growth and gets the glory!

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Each soul matters to God and we have the Good News – we need to share it with others!  The lost sheep is important to the Good Shepherd. He doesn’t want anyone to perish but to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) There is not one that doesn’t matter in the sight of God.

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