People, especially young ones, are looking at alternate experiences of the supernatural. Eastern religions, New age understandings, and within the Christian Church, there has been a real movement into Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, because there is observable signs of God's presence. The God we worship is a God who is powerful, and does miracles, and can make his presence felt in real ways, in the lives of those He touches. This has been the reason for the focus on listening and responding to God’s voice, in a prophetic or visionary way, in our gathered celebrations.
This story of Peter and Cornelius is filled with God supernatural activity in the lives of these people. Firstly, the Holy Spirit was at work in the visions of both Cornelius and Peter. This wonderful conversion experience could only have come about in the way that it did because of the supernatural intervention of God's Spirit. Secondly, we see here God’s mission. Peter saw strange things in his vision - things that weren't part of his understanding of how God worked. He was constrained in his understanding by the food laws of his faith. They dictated what was considered clean and unclean. This vision was God saying that all peoples are acceptable to him. Race, colour, gender, social standing -none of these things matter, for God wants all humanity to come and respond with faith in Jesus. The good news of God's love is available to all, in Jesus, no matter how different they are to us. Luke has now recounted the conversions of Saul and Cornelius. The differences between these two men were considerable. In race Saul was a Jew, Cornelius wasn't. In culture, Saul was a scholar, and Cornelius was a soldier. In religion Saul was a bigot, and Cornelius a seeker. Yet both were converted by the gracious love, and plan and purpose of God. Both received the forgiveness of their sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, and both received the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Both come to be part of the community of faith, on equal terms.
The Gospel is the one necessary ingredient for all of us to respond to. What difference has the gospel made in your life, and who can you share that difference with this week?