I love the story of Cornelius in Acts 10. His is another “everyman” picture of how faithful God is. The story in its historical context is pretty interesting; the story placed in today’s cultural context is inspiring.
Cornelius was a Roman military officer, an enemy of Israel and, therefore, an enemy of the Jewish faith. He would have been known for what he did and with whom he aligned. It is unlikely that any Jew or Christian would have approached him to discuss God and faith. Yet Cornelius was fervently praying, discipling his family and caring for the poor.
I wonder how he came to be a man who sought after God with such deep conviction that it warranted divine attendance and angelic intervention. Who would have guessed that this Roman officer prayed to one God and that the one and only Jehovah would hear him? Who would have picked a Roman officer as the pivotal figure to open the eyes and ears of the church to the possibility that everyone, everywhere, can hear voice of God? Well, apparently God did.
Cornelius’ story is a story of making disciples; his is a snapshot of faith formation from its earliest awareness of God to gospel proclamation. His story reflects our longing to know God, to realize Jesus as Lord, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Bible stories that introduce men and women such as Cornelius cause me to stop and ask a few questions about my life and people with whom I am likely to share the gospel. As a pastor, I spend a lot of time with people of like faith and spiritual passions. So I have to ask myself if there are many men like Cornelius in my life. How many people have I dismissed as closed to the gospel because of their position in life, their social status or their appearance?
Men like Cornelius seriously challenge my commitment to presenting the gospel to everyone. They remind me of my deepest commitments to Christ that may have fallen out of my day-to-day practice. I must return to my first passion as a servant of Jesus Christ—telling His story to everyone, everywhere.
As we talk about church multiplication, I must remember that multiplication begins with making disciples. It begins with my telling the story of Christ wherever I go. Certainly, I must live the gospel as a witness to the world, but I must equally talk about Christ in my life.
By: Bill Gross, missional coach and consultant for the National Church Office