At times, we can get in the way of what God wants to accomplish. Our opinions, our world view and how we judge the validity of an idea, at times block the progress of the church. This is not anything new. Well meaning, good intentioned believers have put up road blocks and obstacles for the advancement of the church for a long time. I will never forget observing one of those famous business meetings in the church where I came to know the Lord. Tempers arose, words were exchanged in a spirit of mistrust that seemed to envelope the building and in the end, and Satan was the victor.
God was doing some amazing things in the early church. He had told the disciples to go into Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth and share the good news of Christ (Acts 1:8). It took a while for those first Christians to understand the significance of that plan. Take the time to read the first 11 chapters of the history book of the New Testament, Acts, you will observe the movement of the Spirit of God.
Beginning in chapter 2, we observe the day of Pentecost and the birth of the church. It was all Jewish. Some were converts to Judaism who later became converts to Christ but Jewish in culture nonetheless. These new believers met in the temple and in each other’s houses to receive the instruction from God’s Word, and to enjoy fellowship and to worship the Lord. They were in Jerusalem and for a while it seemed that they were very content being there. As readers we make the observation, “Hey, what happened to the command of Christ in chapter one verse eight?” When we get to the end of Chapter 7 and the beginning of Chapter 8, a great persecution arose against the church and the believers scattered. We read of the ministry of Philip among the Samaritan people (Acts 8). Step one, the church was starting to get its wings! They were beginning to minister to people of a different culture. We are introduced to Philip’s ministry to an Ethiopian who comes to Christ. Now we are getting somewhere!
After reading about the miraculous conversion experience of Saul, who was responsible for the persecution of believers, we stop at take a observe chapters 10 and 11 of Acts. God is preparing His people to launch out into the deep, to move among people who did not share any cultural similarities at all with those first believers. We must point out that it took God in His sovereignty for that to happen. He speaks to a Gentile man by the name of Cornelius and at the same time He speaks to the apostle to the Jewish people, Peter. He clearly shows Peter that the era of the Law of Moses has been fulfilled and that all men need to hear the good news, even those who were of a different culture that he.
The rest is history. Peter goes to meet with a man by the name of Cornelius whose house is now filled with his family and friends. As Peter explains to them the good news of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, these Gentiles believe and receive the Holy Spirit! There is no greater miracle even today than that of God changing a life, none!
As Peter returns back to Jerusalem the story gets interesting. There were a group of believers who had the conviction that the gospel was for them and them alone. When they heard that Peter had entered the house of a Gentile and ate with them and shared the Word of God with them, they blew a gasket! “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them!” You can hear the tone of condemnation! “What were you thinking, Peter?” They were saying, “God doesn’t work that way!” “You should be ashamed of yourself acting like that!”
Do you find yourself being critical at times of the passion other people have for Christ? We believers can be so judgmental. “That is no way for a believer to act,” we say in a ‘supersaintly’ way that is neither super nor saintly! As Peter heard the criticism of these folks he related to them the story of what happened. What would you think? What side would you be on?
Here is a verse that until recently I have not paid much attention to in all my time being a Christian. It is Acts 11:17, “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” The last thing I want to be known as is someone who opposes God and His work! I want to be known as someone who is so passionate about God that I rejoice each time I hear of His work being done! It is time for the church of Jesus Christ to get revved up for the things that cause all of heaven to rejoice. God is not obligated to do His work the way we think they ought to be done! We are obligated to recognize His hand when His work is being done!