Cornelius wasn’t one of the popular kids. Nobody wanted to sit at his table. Imagine the shock when he invited the most popular kid to eat with him.
Cornelius wasn’t a Jew; worse than that, he was a high-ranking officer in the occupying Roman army. Jewish law proclaimed Cornelius unclean, unacceptable. Jews were forbidden to even associate with him, and certainly would never enter the house of such a degenerate low-life.
Cornelius sent a delegation to invite Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, to his home. He may have expected a rejection because “good Jews” wanted nothing to do with men like Cornelius.
Right before the delegation arrived, Peter had a vision in which he was told to eat ritually forbidden animals. He was sure the instruction was a mistake. “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
Peter wanted God to know he was a “good Jew” because he followed the rules. The response was pretty convicting.
“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Acts 10:9-16
In The Message translation Peter hears, “If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.”
Peter got the point. He accepted Cornelius’ invitation, shared the gospel with the gentiles, and baptized them.
Peter took a risk. He sat at the lunchroom table with the unpopular kids.
I wonder how often I decide in God’s name who’s okay. I wonder how often I use God’s authority to designate my personal “in crowd.”
I don’t extend my circle as often as I could. I hang out with those with whom I feel comfortable, my own version of the popular kids.
Jesus didn’t hang out with the popular kids. Following Jesus doesn’t mean doing what’s politically or socially or even religiously okay.
Following Jesus means doing what’s God-okay.
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