Summary: If someone came to you and asked you about your faith in Jesus, what would you tell them? Would you just invite them to church, or would you be able to tell them why you believe what you believe?
OPEN: Someone once said:
“I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, about Somebody, who can save anybody”
This morning’s text is a story about the first Gentiles who became Christians. Up until this time the entire Church was made up of Jews who’d accepted Jesus. There were NO Gentiles. But God intended to change that, and so he sent an angel to visit to Cornelius that change the course of the church’s history.
Now, there were several significant differences between the Jews and Gentiles, but one of the major differences was that the Jews were circumcised… and the Gentiles were not.
(Do I need to go into what circumcision was? No? Good… because I really didn’t want to.)
Part of this story has to do with the fact that Peter and 6 of his “circumcised” friends were on their way to preach to these Gentiles, circumcise them… then baptize them. They were not going to baptize these Gentiles UNTIL they were circumcised.
But God didn’t want that to happen, so He interceded in this story in such a powerful way that Peter asks his friends: "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?…” Acts 10:47
Why ask the question?
Because that’s precisely what Peter’s friends intended. Until these folks were circumcised, the Jewish believers with Peter had no intention of letting them get wet.
That’s the background for the story we’ve just read.
But, what I want to focus on this morning is this question:
What can we learn from this story that will help us share our faith in Jesus with others?
Now, the 1st thing I want us to notice here is:
Cornelius was a seeker
He was looking for Jesus.
He sends a delegation of 3 men to seek for Peter and ask him to come preach to his friends and family. So they came looking for Peter to learn about Jesus.
Cornelius was looking for Jesus.
ILLUS: According to some recent research it is estimated that less than 3% of the non-Christian people in the world ever come to a church buildings. Apparently only 3% of this world seeks for Jesus enough to come to church.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t come to you or me to find Him.
And if it happens to YOU… it would be a great opportunity.
I mean, it doesn’t get any easier than this.
To have people come to you looking for Jesus would be great.
All you’d have to do is know what to say.
(pause) Do you think you’d know what to say?
Well, before we get to that question, let’s look closer at some of the circumstances that led up to this event.
First, we need to realize that Peter was NOT REALLY into this. e really didn’t want to do it. In fact, Peter wouldn’t have gone looking for these folks if they hadn’t come to him because these folks were Gentiles. These were not people that Peter would have had over to his house for supper.
In fact, after Peter baptized Cornelius and his household he returned “…to Jerusalem, (and) the circumcised believers criticized him and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." Acts 11:2-3
Uncircumcised Gentiles were not the kind of people that good Jewish Christians would eat with. And that poses a problem for us Christians once in a while.
You see, we don’t get to choose the kind of “seekers” that might approach us. Often times, if a person is looking for Jesus badly enough to risk embarrassment of admitting that they have a problem and they need fixed… they might not be someone you’re comfortable with.
ILLUS: In his autobiography, Mahatma Ghandi said that - during his student days - he was interested in the Bible. He especially touched by what he read in the gospels, he seriously considered becoming a Christian.
So, one Sunday he went to a church to see the minister and ask for instruction on the way of salvation and other Christian doctrines.
But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused him a seat and suggested that he go and worship with his own people. He left and never went back.
He said to himself "If Christians have caste differences also I might as well remain a Hindu."
AND THAT’S JUST WHAT HE DID!
Now, that doesn’t seem to be a problem here at Logansport.
I’ve watched your reaction when people who aren’t like you come to church, and I know you’re comfortable with welcoming people who are different. But it’s a good thing to keep in the back of our minds.
But my main point here is this: Peter didn’t want to witness to these folks. He wasn’t comfortable with sharing Jesus with Cornelius and his household. And (you know) you don’t have to be prejudiced to have that problem.