Feb24WedFebruary 24, 2016
Our current sermon series has been focusing on the life and faith development of Peter. As you look at the various stories, it’s amazing to read how God transformed this ordinary fisherman into one of the strongest leaders of the Early Church!
Any study on Peter’s life would not be complete without considering Acts 10. Here Peter received a vision from the Lord which told him to eat food which was considered ‘unclean’ within the Jewish culture. God's lesson through the vision wasn’t really about food or the relevance of Jewish law but about proclaiming the gospel to Gentiles.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord had given hints that the Gentiles would be included by faith. Two examples are found in our recent Scripture readings. “Sojourners (aka. non-Jews) will join Israel and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob” (Isaiah 14:1b). “In you Abram, all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3b). The gospel of salvation was always intended to reach the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6b).
Regardless, Peter was still perplexed by his vision and likely very uncomfortable when he entered the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion. Not only was it socially taboo for a Jew to enter a Gentile’s house (see Acts 10:28), but it was also a new experience for Peter. Yet, Peter faithfully went where the Lord had instructed. He did not let his personal ‘comfort-level’ keep him from participating in the mission of God.
Scripture is full of imperfect people who left that which was familiar to them in order to obey the Lord. Abram left his father’s land and traveled to a distant place because God had asked (Genesis 12:1). Moses returned to Egypt to speak for God even though he consider himself a terrible orator (Genesis 3-4). Esther spoke up for God’s people even though it put her own life at risk (Esther 4-5). In fact, the Hebrew Scriptures are full of drama because ordinary people trusted God beyond their comfort zones.
When is the last time that you stepped outside of your comfort zone in order to be faithful to God?
Perhaps the better question for us in the Mid-West to ponder is, “How often do you let your comfort zone dictate HOW faithful you should be to God?
Here are some examples: Do you read Scripture with other people? Do you pray together with your children or spouse? Do you ask spiritual questions within your circles of friends? Do you honorably mention Jesus’ name in public? Do you take intentional time for prayer and spiritual retreats? Each one of these were modeled by Jesus and therefore given to us as a command – yet why do we hesitate to put these into practice? Are they physically challenging? No! Do they require us to get outside of our comfort zone? Absolutely!
I’m certainly glad that Peter was willing to proclaim the risen Savior outside of his comfort zone. Just consider the implications if Peter had not obeyed the Lord, not met with Cornelius and not said, “Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43). Roman citizens in Caesarea may have never heard the gospel!
But what is more...Peter may have never gone on to spearhead the first missionary movement to non-Jews. Praise the Lord that He did! Over the span of centuries, His faithfulness to God has contributed to me hearing and receiving the gospel.
As you consider your week, listen for how the Lord might stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Who knows what might happen when we are willing to participate in God’s work!