“Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” –Acts 10:20
Written by Cassie Chee
In the past three weeks in our weekly devotionals and faith formation classes, we have been studying the early Church in Acts as we consider how God is calling us to imagine the future of Central Union Church. In our final week we consider what might it look like for us to journey into this future with God.
For God’s followers in Acts their journey started with prayer and an extreme openness to God’s response.
At the start of Acts 10 we meet Cornelius, a centurion– meaning he is a Gentile and a Roman solider likely in charge of a hundred other men. As you may recall Gentiles did not have the same relationship to God that ancient Jews had, so Jesus’ coming opened new possibilities for them. As you may also recall, Jesus was crucified by the Roman empire, of which Cornelius was a military leader. What is unique about Cornelius is that he fears God and is constantly in prayer. In verse 3 an angel appears to him saying his prayers have been answered and he is to send some of his men to Joppa for a man who he has never met. Without question, Cornelius does this immediately, sending his men to Joppa 30 miles away for a mysterious man he knows little to nothing about.
This man the angel tells Cornelius to send for is one of Jesus’ disciples, Simon Peter. Peter is someone who has been a part of Jesus’ ministry from the start when Jesus called him from being a fisherman to be a “fisher of men”. Peter witnessed the ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus as well as the ways the Holy Spirit continued this ministry in Acts. While Peter is hungry and waiting for something to eat, he falls into a trance. In this state he sees a vision three times of a large sheet coming down from heaven filled with all kinds of animals and hears a voice saying “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” This is puzzling to Peter because the animals that appeared in the vision were considered unclean in Jewish law. After Peter has this strange vision Cornelius’ men have arrived to call him to come. Peter then hears the Spirit saying to him once again “get up”. The Spirit tells Peter to go with these men because God has sent them for him.
Peter invites Cornelius’ men to stay with him and then the next day makes another whole day journey with them to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea. Although it was probably confusing for both Cornelius and Peter to meet, their trust in God brought them together. Gentiles were considered unclean in Jewish law and Jews and Gentiles did not associate with one another. Yet Cornelius and Peter both trusted the Holy Spirit so much that they allowed the Spirit to lead their journey to one another. For Cornelius and his household they receive the Holy Spirit upon Peter’s arrival and sharing. For Peter he learns on his journey that God “shows no partiality” but that God’s love extends to all, Jew and Gentile.
God led Cornelius and Peter on a journey that started with them in prayer and holding an openness for God’s response, even when that response was contradictory to ways they fundamentally knew God and culture previously. Faith is trusting that when God calls us on a journey God provides all that we need on the way. We do not need all the answers when we start, we learn as we are transformed by God and one another on the journey.
What is God asking you to do on your journey? How do you respond when something new or uncomfortable is being asked of you?
How is God responding to your prayers as a church? Even when you don’t have all the answers, will you trust God to “get up” and go when She calls?
May you pray wide prayers knowing that when we ask God responds,
May you prepare your hearts, spirits, bodies, and minds when God tells you to “get up”,
May you be transformed by God and everyone you meet on the journey.