The Gift: Even to the Gentiles



Scripture:

Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Observation:

Peter is in Jerusalem meeting with the leaders of the new church and there are concerns because rumors are circulating about his work. It’s purported that Peter had met with uncircumcised Gentiles, and that they had received the Holy Spirit. This greatly concerned those who were in leadership because they assumed that Jesus had come for the Jews. Surely someone would have to convert to Judaism before receiving the Holy Spirit! But suddenly that didn’t seem to be the case. 

While God could have simply gifted Cornelius and his family with the Holy Spirit, he had Cornelius send men to Joppa and search for a man named Simon. Evidently God was doing more than simply reaching out to the Gentiles, but was also wanting to do a work in Peter’s life. He wanted Peter to have the privilege of participating in the gift-giving, and to experience, first-hand, the work of God. To have refused these individuals would have been to refuse the work of God. 

Yes, God wanted to reach out, even to the Gentiles. Peter had the incredible privilege of participating in that gift. Sadly, there are those who are not always happy about the ways in which God works. The officials in Jerusalem weren’t quite sure about what all of this meant. They wanted their own system to receive the attention, and yet, the gift seemed to know no bounds. Peter recognized that there were those interested in protecting the “system,” but by participating in the gift giving “even to the Gentiles” Peter himself experienced grace. 

Application:

I love watching my granddaughters play together. In reality, they don’t always play well “together.” When the little one picks something up, her older sister thinks that’s the exact item that she needs immediately. She’s only two and learning to share is a challenge of life. Whatever her sister has, she wants it, and wants it now. 

We may not want to admit that we sometimes feel this way about our faith. Those who have been walking with the Lord over a longer period of time may find it difficult to welcome the person whose life is pretty messed up. We may just think, no — this spiritual life is for me — not for you. We judge a person by the way in which they’ve lived their life and, subconsciously may not think that they are worthy of the grace of God. 

A young lady I recently met in a church is a recovered drug addict. She said that no one had ever told her that she could be restored into the image of God. Instead, she felt that she would always have to wear the scars of who she had been, while attending church with those who “seemed perfect.” Or, there are the friends who have messed up in life and feel that they will forever have to bear the Scarlet “A” on their chest. The reality is that we have all messed up in life and none are worthy of the grace we have received from Christ. The joy of participation in the mission of God means that we get to share gifts with everyone. 

This Christmas season let’s look for opportunities to share the gift with those who may be different. In doing so, we may be the ones who realize that in giving, “even to the Gentiles” we are the ones who are blessed.

Prayer:


Lord, please give me eyes to see those around me who may be different, but are awaiting your grace. Amen. 

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