“Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago at about this time, mid-afternoon, I was home praying. Suddenly there was a man in front of me, flooding the room with light. He said, ‘Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighbourly acts have brought you to God’s attention. I want you to send to Joppa to get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’s staying with Simon the Tanner down by the sea.’

“‘So I did it — I sent for you. And you’ve been good enough to come. And now we’re all here in God’s presence, ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.'” Acts 10:30-33 (The Message).

Finally! Cornelius’ explanation put the last piece of the puzzle in place. Peter had his story and Cornelius had his; the two stories blended into one, and the whole thing began to make sense. God was at it again, moving on people to reveal Himself to a hungry heart.

Cornelius made no reference to Peter’s scruples. He did not apologise for overriding Peter’s inhibitions. It was not an issue to him and he would not make Peter’s issues his own.

What was it that had drawn God’s attention to this ex-pagan Roman soldier? Was God really interested in non-Jews? Idolatry was abhorrent to Him and this man had been born and brought up to worship idols, but at some stage in his adult life he had become disillusioned with his religion and attracted to the Jewish faith.

The Jews worshiped only one God, an unseen spirit being whom they said was the Creator of heaven and earth. Their Holy Book told stories of His power and His interaction with people, including accounts of miracles that showed His love for His people.

Cornelius had never known the love of a god. The Roman and Greek gods were evil, vengeful and capricious. Their worshipers had their time cut out either trying to get their attention or appeasing their anger. They were always demanding and never giving; so unlike the God of Israel who was constantly doing things for His people.

Cornelius had been drawn towards this religion, and the outcome was that he had absorbed its lifestyle and requirements — prayer and generosity had become his way of life. Prayer meant reciting psalms and set passages of Scripture at specific times of the day. Consequently he was laying down a foundation of God’s word in his heart.

Recognising and meeting the needs of people around him, as required by the teachings of the Torah, the five books of Moses, had fostered the kind of generosity that pleased God, breaking his natural human bent towards selfishness and greed and moving him beyond the confines of his own needs and the needs of his family. These were the things that indicated his seriousness towards God.

God responded by setting up a meeting with him through the human agency of His servant Peter. Where supernatural visions and angelic visits were necessary, they happened, to bring the two parties together, Peter with his knowledge and experience of Jesus and Cornelius with his hunger to know the truth.

What an example of God’s personal and intimate involvement with us. He is not indifferent to our unspoken longings. He will never ignore even the faintest cry for Him or the slightest move towards Him. It is His will that everyone should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Unless He intervenes and draws us, we cannot know Him but He intervenes to move heaven and earth so that we will encounter Him and experience the truth.

Peter had every reason, having heard Cornelius’ side of the story, to believe that this meeting was of God and to launch into an explanation of the meaning of Jesus’ life and death so that Cornelius and his household and friends could have an opportunity to believe and receive the truth. He was free to fellowship with Cornelius in his home because God said it was okay.

Luella Campbell

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