The Missionary Dilemma!
Holy Spirit of God, comfort me today by Your presence and guide me to follow Your purpose for me.
Read Acts 10:9-23
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
Among other things happening here, we have a Divine appointment with the arrival of Cornelius’s representatives. We need to be constantly alert for God’s appointments for us.
The traditional image of the missionary is of someone very earnest, with single-minded vision and clear and set ideas. Here Luke describes how Peter, finding himself astride the cultural fault-line between Jews and Gentiles, reacts in ways that leave him being involuntarily contradictory! When he is instructed to kill and eat the animals shown to him in a vision he responds with the ridiculously contradictory statement, “Surely not, Lord!” (14). Luke surely intends his readers to smile as he depicts the apostle twice trying, unsuccessfully, to puzzle out the meaning of the vision (17a, 19a)!
The issue at stake for a devout Jewish believer like Peter was serious. The voice from heaven seemed to contradict the Torah: it implied that behavior which had always been associated with holiness and purity was now, in the light of Christ, to become relative and optional. Beyond that, it suggested that the Gentiles would not need to abandon their social and cultural worlds to become true worshipers of God, but that they might follow Christ from within those worlds. Peter is on the leading edge of a revolutionary change.
Then, with exquisite timing, Cornelius’ representatives show up, calling Peter’s name! Eventually, instructed by the voice from heaven, Peter goes downstairs and blurts out: “I am the man you are looking for: what brings you here?” (v. 21, J.B. Phillips). The response of his uninvited visitors causes Peter to understand, and the scene closes with a deceptively simple statement that he “invited the men into the house to be his guests” (23). We learn here that humor has its place in the Bible and we may smile when we discover it. More seriously, God is always ahead of us in mission and we may look foolish as we try to catch up with him.
Are you able to laugh at yourself? Reflect on ways in which you have come to realize your mistakes and misunderstanding of God’s ways.
Father, I am open to receive from You. If I need to expand my horizons and embrace new truths, I ask for grace to be Your faithful follower.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.