Discipling the Disciples
Scripture Reading — Acts 10:24-44
24The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself." 27Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?" 30Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.' 33So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us." 34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." 44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. —
"God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation ..." Acts 10:34-35
One of the biggest fears you may have about witnessing for Jesus is that you need all the answers. You might think friends or neighbors or coworkers will throw questions at you that you can't answer.
Peter's approach to Cornelius and his household can help calm these fears. Peter was way outside his comfort zone entering the home of a Roman citizen. He wasn't used to hanging out with non-Jews, and yet Cornelius was all ears and wanted to hear more about the gospel.
Peter did something we all need to do before we start talking. He started the conversation by listening. "May I ask why you sent for me?" he asked. And when he heard about Cornelius's vision, Peter recognized he had something to learn from this experience. Then, when he had some understanding about the situation and did some teaching, his new friends got it! They believed and wanted to be baptized. Something similar happened when the people back in Jerusalem heard about this. When Peter explained his spiritual friendship with Cornelius, the Spirit convicted the people that they too ought to celebrate this new life in Christ (Acts 11:1-18).
To be true disciples, we need to follow Peter's cue of becoming a spiritual friend who finds out how to accept, learn with, and teach those whom Jesus loves. With whom are you in a spiritual friendship these days?
Lord, forgive us when we judge or feel superior and remain aloof to others who do not yet believe. Help us to love them as you do, and to share what you mean to us. In Jesus, Amen.