Acts 10:34-48; Joshua 9-10; Job 25
It was a pivotal time in the life of the Church. As the persecution of Saul waned, God opened a door that none of the members of the early church really thought about. He sent Peter to preach to Gentiles – Roman soldiers in fact. While Cornelius wasn’t a Jew, he was a devout God-fearer. Could the gospel of Jesus Christ reach out past the Jewish people? Peter discovered the answer. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” (Acts 10:34-35) The answer must have shaken Peter to the core. Those who were with him were astonished at God’s response as well. The Church became a church for all people, not just the Jews, in that day as Peter was obedient. How easy it is to identify Christianity with our own view of culture. We make God conform to our culture instead of seeking to transform culture to God’s plan and then we’re surprised when we see God working through people who fear and live for Him in different cultures. We’ve accepted the belief that “God’s gonna bless us real good” knowing the wealth and prosperity are coming to us while that cultural glitch in the gospel flies in the face of centuries of persecution that continues this day in many countries. God’s desire is that the gospel be preached to all nations so that people who are really seeking the God that transcends culture and religious beliefs may come to Him. Of course, that raises the hard question that we must each ask ourselves: “Am I following the god of this culture or am I seeking to follow the God of the universe.”
Dear Lord, I am grateful for the many material blessings I have in the culture where I live. Let me never confuse that culture with Your plan, though. Remind me that following You usually leads to persecution and deprivation. Remind me that many who are poor in physical resources are rich in You and help me seek that kind of relationship with You.