COMMUNITY OF FAITH PT 2
We are continuing the story of Cornelius and Peter as we talked about how the community of God is primarily gathered because of our faith in Jesus Christ. If you need a refresher, look at yesterday’s post to catch up but we will continue on with the story of how God is opening the eyes of Peter to the reality of who is truly part of the community of God.
NOTES ON THE PASSAGE
19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation,[a] for I have sent them.”
It says in the ESV that the Spirit told Peter to follow these strange men without hesitation. If you look at the footnote that is at the bottom of the page, we see that an alternative translation replaces “without hesitation” with “without distinction.” God was telling Peter that he is to not be skeptical or discriminatory of these people because of their background because the Lord sent them to him. God is about to dramatically shift the mindset of the church to see who will make up the body of Christ!
God didn’t explain why He called these men to Peter but Peter had to simply obey the voice of the Lord. Now in terms of hearing God and knowing when to act upon convictions is a tough thing because you begin to wonder if you are truly hearing from God or making things up in your head. Here are some tips that can help you discern God’s voice in your life, which are the following:
To hear God’s voice, you must train yourself to be familiar to His voice through His word. When we are constantly in the word of God we know how God thinks, acts, feels, etc. When we know his word we know that whatever word we get that if it comes against the Bible, then it is not from the Lord!
You hear God’s voice through community. To help prevent hearing incorrectly from God, it helps to have people praying and seeking God’s will with multiple people who love the Lord. To ask people to join you in prayer to hear Him for a particular issue is a lost art for the majority of people because we make our walks with God so individualistic but God calls us to walk in community. When there is unity in thought, then it is a sign (not the only sign!) that God has spoken over the community for any issue presented to Him.
23 So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.
This is a minor point but a practical point in that Peter followed the strange men with his crew. Peter exercised obedience to God but also exercised wisdom by not going alone! Obedience to God doesn’t mean you give up wisdom in the process! When God calls you to do something, He gives you the capability to do that thing, which includes wisdom in how to carry out His will. Remember if you get the conviction that God wants you to do something and there is support through the word and community, then strategize on how to execute God’s plan that you have received! To recklessly go in without developing a plan with God can be just as dangerous as not obeying.
25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”
To honor leaders is good and we are called to honor but we are not to worship them! The temptation is to elevate people’s capabilities above God’s grace but we must realize that all people are flawed. In Christ, people are good and powerful but never deserving of worship that is due to God alone!
Here are some points about honoring leaders and signs that the church gathers for people rather than God.
We obey leaders but we must never treat their words as absolute. If we blindly follow leaders all the time, then we are in danger of making their words the absolute truth over God’s truth. We obey leaders but not if they are leading us away from the Lord. This doesn’t mean that if they are not perfect that they are unworthy of honor but we must realize that people make mistakes and that we must learn how to seek God as well.
If your only exposure to the word is through sermons and you don’t seek God yourself too, then you are setting yourself up to follow blindly. People have died in Church history to defend the belief that ALL people are capable in the Spirit to read the word, encounter God through it, and live by it.
When you only take notes and listen to Pastors that are “engaging” then you are more in love with a person than the Spirit of God. If we are not open to being taught by other Spirit filled leaders or friends then we are not open to the Holy Spirit that is working through them. Learn to be open to hear God no matter who speaks or whoever leads worship, or whoever is leading the Bible study.
28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.
The image of God was broken at the fall but the restoration of that image happened at the cross and resurrection.
How we view others determines the level of the Gospel we believe in. No one is too hopeless for the Gospel. To say someone is hopeless is not just a judgement upon a person but I believe that it also reveals the lack of hope in the power of God to save. Granted it will be a person’s choice to receive God’s grace but our judgements never encourage people to Christ but our hope in God for them.
Most of our issues on earth is because of our lack of honoring the image of God within each other. If we honored the image of God in each other, then racism, prejudice, and all the things that separate us will be done away with.
More than highlighting someone’s flaws, can we ask God to see with His eyes on how he has the hope to restore that person to begin to live the way they are meant to live when they are walking in the Spirit? Again our view of people needs to change because we are far more judgemental and far more unforgiving of people so therefore we must pray continuously for God to change our vision to align with His.
The story is still not finished but to add on top of yesterday’s post, we must realize that as we gather because of our faith in Jesus, we must learn how to see people with the perspective that God sees them in. A lot of times it is our view of people that is incorrect and therefore as we gather for His glory, we can practically glorify Him when we choose to see things like Him for the purpose of loving Him and people He died for.