Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Called to be Inclusive

     Called to Be Inclusive

Adult Sunday School Lesson for August 27, 2017


To ponder the importance of ministering across cultural, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries

Bible Lesson

Background: Acts 10

Acts 10:19-33 (CEB)

19 While Peter was brooding over the vision, the Spirit interrupted him, “Look! Three people are looking for you. 20Go downstairs. Don’t ask questions; just go with them because I have sent them.”

21 So Peter went downstairs and told them, “I’m the one you are looking for. Why have you come?”

22 They replied, “We’ve come on behalf of Cornelius, a centurion and righteous man, a Godworshipper who is well-respected by all Jewish people. A holy angel directed him to summon you to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 Peter invited them into the house as his guests.

The next day he got up and went with them, together with some of the believers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Anticipating their arrival, Cornelius had gathered his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in order to honor him. 26But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Get up! Like you, I’m just a human.” 27As they continued to talk, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them, “You all realize that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate or visit with outsiders. However, God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean. 29For this reason, when you sent for me, I came without objection. I want to know, then, why you sent for me.”

30 Cornelius answered, “Four days ago at this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon, I was praying at home. Suddenly a man in radiant clothing stood before me. 31 He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayers, and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to him. 32 Therefore, send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, located near the seacoast.’ 33 I sent for you right away, and you were kind enough to come. Now, here we are, gathered in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has directed you to say.”

Key Verse

God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean. (Acts 10:28)

Some Thoughts
For the past twelve weeks we have been looking at how God calls different people, from Moses to Peter. Of all the lessons today’s may be the most timely and important for our age.

Peter finds himself in conflict between the Jewish law and the Holy Spirit. Peter was staying in the house of Simon the Tanner, a somewhat questionable place to stay because of Jewish law. Yet it is in this setting that Peter has the vision of the sheet coming down and filled with different beast and creatures, none of which would be fit for a good Jew to eat, but God told Peter  “Never consider unclean what God has made pure.”

This had to be a great new revelation to Peter.  It clears the way for what happens next.  A Gentile Roman Centurion was about to invite a devout a Jew into his home.  We do not know much about Cornelius, except what is shared by Luke. But, I have to wonder if there is a connection between Cornelius and the Centurion that Jesus encountered in the Gospel written by Luke, as recorded in chapter 7:9  “ When Jesus heard these words, he was  impressed with the centurion. He turned to the crowd following him and said, “I tell you, even in Israel I haven’t found faith like this.”  If it is not the same Centurion certainly the faith is the same.
It was important for Luke to share both stories, because in both cases a Gentile is used, and in both cases the faith of both are extraordinary.  I think it is the same soldier.  Imagine the boldness of faith displayed in both stories.

The lesson the Holy Spirit teaches Peter, is a great lesson for our day. When God created man in human form there was no black, white, yellow or red, just humankind. God sent His son to redeem mankind not just one or two races but all races. Until we can accept that, we are living outside of God’s will for mankind.

All of our lessons for this quarter are about being called, but more importantly we need to get to work after we are called. There are no drones in God’s workforce only worker bees. If God has called you to salvation, then He expects you to do your job, and continue to grow as Peter grew. Prayer is about listening, you cannot tell God anything He does not know. But if you let Him talk to you through the Holy Spirit, maybe you will hear your assignment.

My hymn for this week is “Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow"

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