Woon Hin Swee
This week, we are continuing the story of Cornelius, which ends with Peter’s speech to the assembly at Jerusalem in Acts 11:1-18. In fact, Cornelius’ conversion is the longest narrative in Acts. Judged solely on the basis of the amount of space Luke gives to the story, we know that we are dealing with a crucial concern of Acts, a pivot for the entire book.
As mentioned in last week’s sermon (Unstoppable Part 17), the early church was faced with a different ‘New Normal’ that challenged everything about their deeply-rooted beliefs in God. Bringing the gospel to the Gentiles seemed new and unbelievable to them. Although, the entrance of Gentiles into God’s kingdom was not a new plan, but something promised long before. God uses the Roman centurion Cornelius, his family and friends to shatter old mindsets in the early church and to break down the barrier to the Gentile world.
How did you become aware of the grace that God has shown you?How would Christianity be different if Peter had not followed God’s instruction to go to Cornelius?b. The outcome would be very different had Peter not paid attention to God’s leading to embark on an assignment that seemed counter-cultural. What other biblical examples can you think of that God’s servants followed His lead and took on assignments that seemed unconventional or counter-cultural? Can you list some bible references here?
c. The ability to discern God’s will, to hear Him and to obey His leading are key elements of God’s miraculous work in this story. How can we cultivate our spiritual ears and hearts to hear God and follow His leading? The following scriptures can help you in your journey to discern God’s voice.• Deu 13:4
WHAT WILL YOU DO
God is the chief orchestrator in all accounts of conversion. Even the smallest details are attributed to the working of God. Conversion is not the result of skillful leadership by the community or even of persuasive preaching or biblical interpretation. In many accounts, such as those of Philip’s work with the Ethiopian, the mysterious hand of God directs everything. In other stories, such as the story of Peter and Cornelius, old mindsets in the early church had to be shattered into the movements of God. Conversion is a surprising, unexpected act of divine grace.
Would you invite God to shatter old mindsets for the season ahead by following His lead instead of taking the lead yourself. And imagine if we, God’s faithful disciples, would do that? What would the future look like?
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” – Isaiah 60:1-3