A Meaty Idea
Eternal Father, You watch over me with endless love and care. I wait now before You and Your Word.
Read ACTS 10:9-23
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The Christian mission is rooted in the nature of God himself. The Bible reveals God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as a missionary God who creates a missionary people” (John Stott).
Pastoral concern and evangelistic zeal are not enough to make you a cross-cultural missionary. There needs to be openness towards people who are culturally different from you. Peter likely had personal prejudices against Gentiles, and these needed to be addressed. The more important issue, however, was the God-given requirements of the Law that had come through Moses. These food laws were part of God’s way of preserving the Jews as a distinct people. Peter had always observed these, but now he is challenged by the ascended Lord himself. Heaven is important in Acts and, as at the conversion of Saul, it is from heaven, where Jesus has gone, that the challenging words come to Peter. Jesus established the principle while ministering on earth (Mark 7:19) but now the implications for his followers are made clearer by his heavenly voice.
Visions can often be puzzling to interpret but here it is the Spirit who makes the connection with the visitors at the door. Peter immediately understands that he is to break the habits of a lifetime and relate to Gentiles in a new way. First, he gives the servants hospitality for the night and then he goes with them to stay in a Gentile home. The barriers are being broken down by God’s direct action. We are unlikely to have God-given prohibitions against our contact with specific groups of people, but prejudices and lifetime habits can be stronger barriers to cross-cultural relationships. Last year, a meeting of church leaders involved in church planting revealed that each of them was planting churches among people just like themselves, and none had crossed a cultural or class boundary in their evangelism.
Am I limiting my evangelistic contacts by prejudices and habits that need to be transformed by the Holy Spirit? Who is the Cornelius that I should be visiting?
Lord, increase my devotion to world evangelization. May I have a vision for the world You love and died for.