Friday, April 6, 2012

Acts 10:24-29

Summary retelling of Acts 10:24-29

The following day, Peter and those travelling with him arrived in Caesarea.  Cornelius was expecting them, so he gathered up all of his friends and family in anticipation of Peter’s arrival.  When Peter shows up, Cornelius bows down to worship him.  However, Peter tells him to not do so because Peter is just a man like everyone else in this world.  Peter and Cornelius talk for a little bit before Cornelius invites him in and Peter sees the gathered crowd.  Peter realizes that he has been invited into a gathering of Gentiles and according to his Jewish custom it is not lawful for him to be here.  Now Peter understands the meaning of the vision.  God determines what is clean or unclean, not us.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
The distance from Joppa to Caesarea was 30 – 35 miles, depending on which route they took (overland or along the coast).  No stop for a moment and think about this.  The average person can walk 2.5-3 miles per hour and do it for some length of time (humans can walk faster than that, but then we get tired and have to stop and rest if we do).  So, Peter is likely looking at a journey of 10-12 hours.  In order for Peter to go to Casearea, he’s looking at a trip of substantial commitment.

So here’s a question.  Pick someplace that is 30-35 miles away.  If there was a group of people that wanted to hear about God there, would you be willing to walk it? 

Or maybe we should talk about driving.  Get a map, or go onto Google Maps.  Find New Orleans, LA.  Then Find Little Rock, AR.  Then find Chicago, IL.  Then Find New York, NY.  Then find Miami, FL.  Each of those places represents a drive of about 10-12 hours from Wilkesboro, NC.  In your mind, draw a line between all of those places.  If you knew that someone in that space that wanted to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, would you be willing to drive that distance just to tell them about God?

Or maybe we should talk about flying.  Is there anywhere in the world to which you cannot fly and arrive at within 12 hours of travelling?  If you had the resources available to you and you knew that someone within 12 hours of travelling needed to hear the Gospel of Jesus, would you go?

What stops us from being willing to go?

Second Thought:
How cool is Cornelius’ faith?  He doesn’t know for sure whether or not his people met with Peter.  He doesn’t know for sure whether or not Peter agreed to come back with them.  He doesn’t even know when they are going to return.  But what does he do?  He invited friends and family over because he believes in God.  He believes Peter will come.  Now that’s faith.  That’s someone who wants to know God.

What stops you from acting in faith?  What stops you from inviting all your friends and family to listen to someone that you know who can genuinely teach them about God?

Third Thought:
Peter begins to get it!  Woot!  Peter begins to understand that God is asking him to be willing to follow wherever God takes him rather than always living “inside the box.”  Not that we should look for ways to cast off tradition, but we should be willing to go outside of tradition when God makes it clear that it is where He is leading.

How much joy do you have in hearing Peter “get it?”  How much joy do you think it brings to the lives of other people when you “get it,” too?  How much joy does it bring to people’s lives (and most importantly to God!) when they hear of your willingness to follow God inside or outside of the box?

Fourth Thought:
{This thought is from a long-time friend of mine … actually, a former student that I had in ninth grade.  Hard to believe we’ve been friends for over a decade since she was my student!  Anyway, this thought was inspired by a conversation I had with her and she spoke truth to me about this passage.}

Peter’s speech about God showing him that Peter is not responsible for determining what is clean or unclean is really about tolerance.  The idea of “clean” and “unclean” is an idea that the Jews often took to intolerance.  It segregated their life.  It hindered their ability to tell people about the love of God.  Now Peter is learning that he needs to be tolerant of people regardless of their “ritual purity.”  He needs to be tolerant towards them because that is the only way that they will ever truly know God’s love.  Cornelius and his family would not have been receptive to Peter coming and telling them how much their life is screwed up and how many things they need to change in order to even begin to be acceptable to God.  But they are very receptive to Peter coming and talking to them about the love of God and how they can respond to God’s love.

How tolerant are you in your life?  Are there areas where you are very tolerant and areas that you are not at all tolerant?  What drives you tolerances?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 10:30-33
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