(Bonus points if you get the humor of the picture and how it correlate with this post) 🙂
Acts 10, NASB
Every thing God does is amazing and powerful. Then there are times like this where God speaks to two completely different people who don’t know each other and brings them together in a powerful way with an amazing outcome.
There are 2 visions God gives in this text in the 10th chapter of Acts. Cornelius, a Gentile (non-Jew) Centurion that believed in the God of Israel and was known for giving alms/charity to the poorer/less fortunate Jews as well as known for being a devout man who prayed regularly and continually.
God sent an angel to him and got his attention. The angel told him that God had recognized his prayers and alms as a memorial before God and that he needed to have someone go find Simon Peter for him.
At the time Cornelius sent the people to look for Peter, Peter went to pray and he got hungry. Then, while they were preparing the food, he fell into a trance where God asked him to get up and kill 4 footed animals and birds of the air. Peter was perplexed and said God, I have never had unclean food! God showed this to Peter 2 more times and after the 3rd vision, the men Cornelius sent had arrived.
Now this vision had two meanings. It had the literal meaning of the food no longer being unclean since God has declared it as clean, but it also shows that salvation was not just for the Jews.
This, then, led to a great happening in the Christian church as the Gentiles were hearing the gospel and being saved. This was a huge step forward into the plan God had for helping the world know who He is and the love/hope/salvation/eternal life that comes with surrendering ones’ life to Christ.
When Peter and Cornelius met, he (Peter) took this opportunity to share the gospel. This was a very succinct and clear message.
He reminded them that it started with John and the baptism he proclaimed and that Jesus was anointed with power and with the Holy Spirit and how he witnessed everything Jesus did while He was here, up until He was put to death on a cross and that He was raised up back to life by God on the third day. After this, He charged them with being witnesses by preaching the gospel that Jesus is the one appointed by God and that whoever puts their faith in him will receive forgiveness of sins.
Peter was being faithful in his proclamation of Christ here and we see that the Spirit came upon them as they spoke in tongues and exalting God, to the amazement of the Jews there and they were instructed to be baptized (in water) after that.
Now, most of us probably don’t have any lines drawn in the sounds like this where we think “we are the chosen ones” and everyone else is “unclean” and therefore this good news isn’t for them
However, I do believe there is an important lesson for us to learn from this. We ALL have things that can keep us / hold us back from proclaiming the gospel to those around us.
This list could be a long one, but I’ll note the most common excuses/hindrances to us sharing the gospel.
– We don’t know what to say
– What if they reject what I say?
– I’m too nervous to talk to them
– How could “those people” ever accept Christ with how far off the path they are?
The first few can be easily remedied, know what you are going to say. Jesus came to the Earth to reveal God’s love to people, there needed to be an ultimate sacrifice that brought forgiveness and salvation to the people of the world and Jesus gave Himself as that sacrifice and rose back to life on the third day. In doing so, he broke the curse and hold sin had upon our lives and gave us the opportunity to surrender t Christ and receive hope in eternal life. And then let the people know that they can know Christ as their Lord and Savior if they surrender their life by putting their faith solely in Christ.
That last one I want to expound on a bit. This is something I have witnessed (in an innocent way, but still a barrier nonetheless).
Human beings are professionals at creating our own road blocks. I see it ALL the time. In our Christian faith, in our jobs, in our abilities, with technology, you name it. There are people that have a thought in their mind without any precedent to it and then take that curious thought and make it into a hard and fast rule in their mind.
For example, I work in IT. People constantly are limiting themselves in the use of their technology because they decide it can’t do something. At work, we have a large network of computers. Each person has their own login and password. They can sit down at any computer at the county and use their login information and get on that computer. However, there are people that the computers are limited only to the account of the person who sits at that desk.
This wasn’t something we have ever announced, but as people we create rules and barriers in our minds because of the lack of knowledge we have in an area and because we are uncertain and don’t want to venture into that area, we don’t try and we don’t know. When I tell people they can login at any computer and it will work just like the one at their desk, they are both relieved and astonished.
Translate this over to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I was first save, people came up to me and said “I am curious how you ended up being a Christian with the family you came from”. Now, don’t take that the wrong way, this person wasn’t bashing my family, he respects my family, but he knew that they didn’t have a Christian upbringing, but he wasn’t saying they were bad and terrible people. He was just curious what could have taken place for me to be able to put my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
See, we create these road blocks in our minds and need help getting them around them. There are a lot of people that believe various things in this world. We think that, in regards to Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other non-Christian belief systems, that it would be “hard”, “difficult”, “next to impossible” for them ever to believe in Jesus because they are so adamant about their faith as it is.
Or perhaps there is someone out there who is just dead set against Christianity and doesn’t have any religious/faith background they align themselves with. We can fool ourselves into thinking that “they’ve already heard this and known it but just don’t want anything to do with it and therefore, we don’t need to say anything to them because they already heard and didn’t put their faith in Christ.
We can’t allow these barriers to be formed in life. And I think that we just need to take the simple approach of being faithful by planting a seed. We can’t force the seed to grow, but we can make sure it gets planted. We have to simply share and preach that Jesus is Lord, He gave Himself for every person on earth so everyone has the opportunity to receive eternal life and salvation and that they can make that decision to follow Jesus faithfully, surrendering themselves to Him.
Don’t over complicate it. Don’t try and get them to become Bible scholars in a 15 minute conversation. Love them, and make sure they know Jesus does to, and tell them what Jesus did to show that He loves them.
I think this runs more rampant than we think in the body of Christ. And don’t take this the wrong way, I am not saying that most of the Christians out there are horrible or pathetic, I’m just saying that we often create roadblocks and we need to tear them down.
So what kind of barriers are you putting in your way? I know for me that I don’t do a great job of verbally sharing it. I could do better at giving a succinct message of Jesus Christ’s good news to people I come in contact with.
Don’t dwell on your barrier. Recognize it. Get rid of it. Share Jesus with people. Just like Peter boldly proclaiming the gospel to Cornelius, his family, and other Gentiles, imagine what great things can happen from such a simple step!