Scripture Acts 10:1-3
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
- Cornelius is someone who acts as much as a Jew as possible with conversion and circumcision (“God fearer”)
- Cornelius’ vision due to this acts both of piety and charity (see following verses for this)
- He is addressed by name – a vision specifically to and for him
The story of Cornelius represents the beginning of the mission of the church to the Gentiles. Peter will have his own vision and know that he is to begin this work. But God speaks first to Cornelius… not to Peter. We tend to think that things begin in the church and flow out to the world. The story of Cornelius tells a different tale.
God was at work in Cornelius and had elicited from him a genuine faith that expressed itself in both his good works and his piety ( he couldn’t participate in the Jewish religious practices except as an outsider).
Who around me is praying? Seeking God and wanting more? Desiring something they lack but not sure what it is? Not finding the answers in what the church offers (ouch)? I don’t mean people who shun the church completely or who don’t want to submit in any way to anyone except themselves. I mean people honestly seeking but who find things off-putting and confusing that we put in the way of their finding.
Peter becomes the answer to Cornelius’ prayers. God has to shake him up a bit and out of the place where he is to do it. Where might God want to do the same today for those around me through me?
Lord, around me today are people seeking you, people moved by your Spirit and moved by you. Use me today as you did Peter… correct my vision and change my perspective as your did Peter’s. Make me an answer to other people’s prayers – not for anything I am or have but because you would use me and because I am where you need and want me to act. In the name of Jesus who transformed Cornelius’ life and answered his prayers. Amen.