ESSAY-LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: Today’s lesson was well taught by Sister Johnson. The lesson was entitled DRAWING IN. The Scripture was from Acts 10:19-33. The KEY VERSE was verse 28 which reads, “He said to them: ‘You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (NIV)
In this lesson, we were asked to realize and appreciate that the Gospel is for EVERYONE and that we should aspire to reach others with the Gospel message. We should commit to enhancing the church’s cross-cultural mission outreach.
In the lesson, we learn of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius. Cornelius was a good man who believed in God. He’d been led by an angel to invite Peter to come to his home in Caesarea so that he and his family and friends might learn more. So, he dispatched 3 men to deliver the invitation to Peter.
Peter had been forewarned by the Spirit that the men were coming so, when they arrived, he was expecting them. So, he invited them to come into his home and spend the night. This Peter did in spite of the fact that Jewish law forbade any interaction with Gentiles/Non-Jews. He would later face a scorching inquisition in opposition to his actions. Peter, however, was obedient to God’s commands and therefore, treated the men with respect and dignity.
The next morning, Peter got up and went with them. Some of his friends from Joppa went along (These men would come in handy as witnesses later). Once at Cornelius’ home, Cornelius was up on his feet greeting him—and then down on his face worshiping him! Peter pulled him up and said, “None of that—I’m a man and only a man, no different from you.”
Later, when Peter had been introduced and was standing before the group, he said, “You know, I’m sure, that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race or culture. But, God has just shown me that no race or culture is better than any other. So, the minute I was sent for I came, no questions asked. But, now I’d like to know why you sent for me.”
Cornelius said, “Four days ago, I was home praying. Suddenly there was a man right in front of me, flooding the room with light. He said, ‘Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention. I want you to send to Joppa to get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’s staying with Simon the Tanner down by the sea. So, I did it—I sent for you. And you’ve been good enough to come. And now we’re all here in God’s presence, ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.”
These passages of Scripture habor many messages for us. But, today the focus was on rising above cultural suspicions and prejudices and seeking to reach others with the Gospel message, despite cultural, racial, socio-economic, or religious differences. Different isn’t bad. Different is just different.
A TRUE STORY
Two EMTs were on a call to a person who’d “passed out” in a local church. The dispatcher told them to respond to the Black Church on ABC Road. The EMT who was driving shot right past the church. Her partner yelled out, “Hey you just passed the Black church!” to which the driver responded, “I didn’t see any ‘Black Church’. I just saw that white church back there!
Of course, she thought that the dispatcher was referring to the color of the church building so she was looking for a church that had been painted black. Will we be like the driver? Will we one day only mention the color of a church when referring to the color of the wood or brick covering the building? I pray so.
The last lesson learned today was how God is not a respecter of persons. He does not look at people through the same dirty windows as we do. The Jews thought that any non-Jew was unclean, unfit, unworthy to be associated with. Do we ever make this mistake? I’ll end with this short story:
Once, there was a young lady who’d fallen on hard times. In an ill-conceived effort to survive, she’d become a woman of ill-repute, but somewhere along the way, she repented for her sins and began to follow Jesus. One day she and the Pastor’s son met. It was love at first sight.
Eventually, they became engaged to be married. The church folk were aghast. “How can he marry a girl with such a sordid history?” they would ask. The couple was the gossip of the church.
One Sunday, the Pastor got up and during his message; he stated that he’d heard the rumblings about his son and his son’s finance’. He said to his congregation, “You people do NOT have a problem with my son and his future wife; you have a problem with JESUS and the BLOOD he shed for our sins!” The congregation came to life. Murmurs and cries of not true! and No Way! rang out.
“Of course you do!” reiterated the Pastor, “And this is how I know that you don’t believe that the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins, for if you knew this, you would know that my son’s future wife has been washed clean of her sins by the blood of Jesus, but since you think she is not worthy of my son, then you must not believe that the blood of Jesus has washed away her sins and is, in fact, incapable of doing so!” he concluded.
When those who’d opposed the union of the Pastor’s son and his bride-to-be heard this, they were ashamed. After all, they were Christians who believed in the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood! But, like many of us, they’d become jaded and worldly about some things.
The Pastor’s speech reminded them of renewing power of Christ’s blood. It reminded them that they were CHRIST-ians!
REACH OUT and DRAW IN!