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Acts 11:1-18 shows us the ramifications of God’s miraculous work in both Peter and Cornelius. You would think that the message of salvation for the Gentiles would be warmly received since it is further evidence of God’s mercy, love and grace, but unfortunately since we are all people tainted by sin, we don’t always respond to God’s workings with as much enthusiasm as we should! Peter was roundly criticised by people who felt that being Jewish was the only way to approach God. The implications of what happened to Cornelius and his family – namely that the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He had on the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, demonstrating that God had granted repentance even to Gentiles without any need for circumcision or other rituals – meant a radical shift in beliefs which had uncomfortable ramifications for many people.
Peter needed God’s explicit instructions to go with Gentiles to Cornelius’s house and to let go of decades of living according to Jewish laws. Others needed to hear of the miraculous way in which God led all parties to accept the Gentiles as fellow believers rather than as the despised enemy. We face similar situations today, whether that it is accepting people of other races or beliefs or letting go of decades of prejudice and taboos. If there is anything which stops us reaching out to people (our cultural baggage, so to speak, including spiritual cultural baggage!), we need to let go of those things, for there is nothing more important than our obedience to Jesus’s Great Commission.