“The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.” – Acts 10:45
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.
So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people.
Gandhi left the church and never returned. “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.” That usher’s prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.
Cornelius’ family was a test case of how far God was willing to go in changing people’s hearts. Peter himself was unsure whether non-Jews had any share of God’s attention. How could God give his blessings to such an unvarnished secularist as a Roman army officer?
Such a person represented everything offensive: a sharpened sword, emperor worship, foreign occupancy. But a strange thing happened! God sent the Spirit powerfully on Cornelius and his family.
“Hey,” they must have said, “God is blind to all those Gentile-Jewish distinctions that call one group good and the other bad. United in Christ and blessed by the Spirit, Gentile and Jewish believers are true brothers, however different their traditions and political bents.” One in Christ! How surprising of God!
Today we know that other divisions are just as illusory in God’s eyes: race and skin color, ethnic background, gender and social status. God has declared all people to be his people—none more than others by any measure of color or wealth. Still, many churches pretend that God prefers white to brown, rich to poor, man to woman. So the revolution begun in Cornelius’ home still goes on—proving that God isn’t finished with us yet.
Do not discriminate, dear brother or sister. It isn’t kosher. God is building a new community of brothers and sisters in the church, where love overcomes all barriers.