It was an unusual visit, albeit a divinely orchestrated one. The Jewish apostle Peter had been invited to the home of a Gentile soldier named Cornelius. Certainly Peter has his reservations. After all, Jews did not associate with Gentiles. The Jews were God’s chosen people, and they considered the Gentiles unclean and unwelcome in the family of God. Still, a strange vision provides Peter the assurance he needs concerning the importance of this God-ordained task.
As Peter visits Cornelius, he shares the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ; and the Gentiles who are present receive the Holy Spirit. Validated by the Gentiles’ sudden ability to speak in tongues, the Jewish believers who are present witness a miracle and receive an unmistakable message: These Gentiles are neither unclean nor unwelcome to God. Peter insists that Cornelius and the other Gentiles be baptized and welcomed into the family of God.
Like the Jewish believers in this story, we too may make judgments about who should be included in God’s plan of salvation—and who definitely should not. It’s important for us to remember that God’s love is for all people and that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross secured for all of humankind the forgiveness of sins. Jesus said, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV). This statement is not limited to only a few individuals or a certain group. It is inclusive of all people.
May we too welcome others into the family of God, just as God first welcomed us. God’s grace is wide and accepting, and God is always worthy of our praise!
All-inclusive God, thank you for your grace demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Thank you for welcoming each of us into your family. Amen.
The Acts passage continues to tell the story of the advance of the gospel. The Holy Spirit falls on a group of Gentiles. They believe and are baptized, thus showing God’s inclusion of all peoples in the plan of salvation. Psalm 98 is a simple declaration of praise. All creation will sing to and rejoice in the Lord. The two passages from John are linked by their emphasis on the relationship between love and obedience. We do not follow God’s commandments in order to make God love us. On the contrary, because God has first loved us and we love God in return, we follow God’s teachings. Jesus provides the model for us, being obedient to his Father out of love.
Read Acts 10:44-48. When has the Spirit of God brought you to a new understanding?
Read Psalm 98. Where have you encountered “a joyful noise” in creation? How do you make a joyful noise in praise of God?
Read 1 John 5:1-6. When have you considered God’s commands as burdensome? When have you found them freeing?
Read John 15:9-17. Are you accustomed to thinking of your relationship with Jesus as a mutual friendship? If so, what does it mean to you to be Jesus’ friend?
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