Acts 10:34,35 – So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
Have you ever found that you had misconceptions about certain people? Peter certainly did. Even though the Lord had commissioned the disciples to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation, it would appear that associating with Gentiles was a step too far for some. Did they honestly think that they were only being sent to reach the Jewish people? Or did they think that sharing the gospel with Gentiles was fine but sharing a meal with them was out of the question? Both of these options seem contrary to God’s will that all should be saved and that all men are equal in his eyes.
Peter was about to get a wake-up call and have his misconceptions well and truly challenged. It started with a vision and was followed by a prompting of the Spirit. Peter is taken to the home of a centurion named Cornelius, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. When Peter arrives at the house, he is quite blunt in his honesty, saying that it is unlawful for him, a Jew, to visit with them, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean – now, why am I here? Cornelius explains that he also had a vision and was told to send for Peter and now we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord. This caused Peter to stop and reassess his misconceived ideas and acknowledge that God’s salvation was available to everyone who would seek after it. He then spoke the Word and watched as the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
My favourite section of this passage comes when Peter is asked to explain his actions to the rest of the brethren and after retelling the whole story he concludes with,
“Who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
How God works and where God works is not for us to question. He will challenge our concepts of who we feel is deserving of his salvation and those we deem as unworthy. He will do what we never thought was possible and no-one will ever stand in his way.