Ibises at a refuge in Hilton Head SC
Acts 11: 15-18 “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
Even as one of the leaders of the new, struggling religion based on the resurrection of Jesus, Peter was not immune to being questioned about his actions. He had entered the home of the Gentile Cornelius, an uncircumcised male, preaching the Good News and eating with Gentiles, as Peter had felt led by the Holy Spirit to do.
When confronted by the other apostles and circumcised brothers on his actions, Peter started to explain his vision from the Lord, wherein Peter was taught that what God cleansed could not be called common or unclean anymore. Peter advised his interrogators that he was doing what the Lord called him to do and that when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles, Peter understood that God was not partial and that the gospel of Jesus was for all who wanted to hear and believe.
Peter asked them who was he to stand in God’s way. No one is wiser than the Lord; we shouldn’t stand in His way when He calls us to a task. We stand in the way of the Lord when we decide who is welcome in our churches or religious institutions and who is not qualified or decent enough to hear God’s teaching.
We hinder God when we fail to show love to people because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, social class, immigrant status, disability challenges, age, and other categories that divide us. We hinder God with our prejudice and with discriminatory acts. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Peter learned that as people of God, we should spread the messages of love, redemption, restoration, and renewal to all who need and want to hear it. Then we let God have compassion on whom He will and mercy on whom He will (Romans 9:15). Revelation 22:17 states, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Let’s not stand in the way of God’s redeeming work.