August 30 I Monday
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” —1 Peter 4:8-9
When Cornelius, a Roman centurion living in Caesarea, received a message from an angel of God to send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter, he immediately obeyed. While Cornelius was described as “devout and God-fearing; [who] gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts 10:2), this statement does not imply that Cornelius did not require Christ and salvation.
God had a purpose in using Cornelius to teach Peter a valuable lesson. When the men that Cornelius sent met Peter, they said, “A holy angel told [Cornelius] to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Afterwards, “Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests” (Acts 10:22-23). Did we notice what Peter did? He invited these men into his house as guests.
The very next day, Peter set out for Caesarea. It is interesting that God required Peter to make the journey into discomfort. Peter would be the one criticized for going into the home of not just any Gentile, but a Roman centurion. Why did God not tell Cornelius to go to Peter instead? Why was Peter forced to walk into the hostile city of Caesarea, a city that was the center of Roman administration and full of Gentiles? Part of the reason could be that the bigger the shift in our understanding, the more impactful the lesson needs to be. For Peter to learn all that God wanted to teach him, he needed to be the one who travelled beyond his own comfort zone.
Peter was obedient to the vision he received from God and made the uncomfortable journey into Caesarea, into the home of a Roman centurion. Peter learned to embrace his brothers and sisters. As he shared the gospel, the Holy Spirit came on those who were listening and they were reconciled to God. After this, Peter faced peer criticism for going into the home of a Gentile when he returned to the Jerusalem church, but this event challenged the early church’s theology and perspective and they learned, “even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).
As we study the rest of Scripture, we find that Peter struggled with this again later in life, when he was purposely eating away from the Gentiles, and was confronted by Paul in this very area. We can learn from Peter that going against our cultural sensibilities is not a one-time lesson, but a lifelong learning process. As we let go of our old patterns and ways of thinking, it is not a one-time thing, but a lifelong journey.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank You that Your gift of salvation is for everyone. Renew my mind and cause me to let go of my old patterns and ways of thinking, so that I see people as You see them.