Have you ever done renovations to your home? I only ask because my house is in pretty much a constant state of renovation. We bought a home that had been pretty neglected over the past decades. While the bones of the house are incredibly solid, it’s physical appearance leaves a lot to be desired. So we are slowly making our way through the house doing repairs and making alterations as we go. Currently, we are working on a section of wall in our living room that was a spot for a fireplace or a wood stove, maybe even both at different times. Currently, it is a floor to ceiling section of rough plaster that sticks about 4 inches out from the wall and is far from square. When I’m done, it will be a rather nice mantled fire place faced in stacked slate.
I don’t tell you this to brag about my latest project. I tell you this to lead into the point I am drawing out of today’s reading. When doing a renovation, you have to start at the beginning and work your way in stages toward the end. I can’t mount the fireplace until the base is framed and built, and I can’t put the mantle in place until fireplace is framed and in place. You get my point I’m sure.
As we work through Acts 9 and 10 today, we get to see God’s plan moving from one stage to the next. We get to see God beginning to move the gospel out from Jerusalem and Judea into the surrounding countryside, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. Up to this point the church had been pretty much concentrated in the Jewish towns and Jerusalem itself. This was never God’s plan for the church, so he begins to push things beyond those boarders. First we have the calling of Saul, soon to be Paul in Acts 9 and then we have the visions of Cornelius and Peter in Acts 10.
I find something rather interesting about these two accounts that I had not really considered before: both Paul and Peter were unwilling participants in this expansion of God’s plan at first. Paul of course was not even a Christian when God called him to be “My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings and sons of Israel.” In fact, Saul was probably the worst opponents of the early church until the events of Acts 9.
Peter is not much better actually. Peter, always a bit stubborn, finds it completely shocking that God would call him to minister to the Gentiles. Some of this is carry-over from his days as a devout Jew (this shows up in his insistence that Jews do not associate with Gentiles; Acts 10:28), and some of it is just Peter’s personality.
We must remember that God has a plan and that he is moving creation to the completion of that plan, one stage at a time. There are moments when God calls us to move forward into a new stage of the plan that we may not be very fond of or even willing to participate in. But God’s plan will be accomplished. Sometimes, like with Saul and Peter, God kind of moves us along regardless of our feelings about it. But there are other times when our own stubbornness or unwillingness to participate in God’s next stage can cause us to be left behind. That, my friends, if a far scarier proposition than the discomfort of moving into a new and unknown stage of God’s plan.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Acts 11-12