The Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit
Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.
Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.
Devotion by Chris Shiver
The apostle Peter, who was both a leader of the Christian community and also obedient to the Hebrew laws, received a vision from God that strongly commanded him to be less concerned about the law’s exclusiveness and more concerned with God’s vision of an inclusive Christian community. And so when he received a message from someone who was not only not Jewish, but was also part of the hated Roman authority structure, he was prepared to recognize that the Holy Spirit was directing him to build a relationship with someone who the law said he was not supposed to interact with. The result was the expansion of the new Christian community beyond the boundaries of what the original believers expected, and a realization that God wanted to bring everyone into the Kin-dom.
Just before I became a believer as an adult, I felt that I was unworthy to be a part of the Kin-dom due to my past behaviors and arrogant unbelief. But believers acting out God’s love as part of their faith helped me to realize that Christ had broken down all barriers between God and every person including me - that I was truly beloved. The book of Acts is the story of how those who have freely received the love of God through Christ, grew in their understanding of how God wants to destroy all barriers that exclude anyone from God’s boundless love, and to create a true fully inclusive community. Their actions were not always perfect, but they kept trying to do better each day.
Jesus, I pray that I will always be reminded that you reached out to me with love, not because I deserved it, but because you wanted to be in relationship with me. Help me every day to recognize and reach past the prejudices that prevent me from recognizing that everyone I meet is equally worthy of your love and a place in the Kin-dom. Amen.