Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Acts 10:1–10:16, Acts 10:19–10:20, Acts 10:28–10:29, Acts 10:33–10:35, Acts 10:43
The story of a big Gospel.
Church: Comforting or Comfortable?
While the Holy Spirit uses a worship service like today to bring deep comfort to weak, weary, and discouraged hearts, “comforting” is not the same as “comfortable.” There are few things as hazardous to our spiritual life as a comfortable church. A comfortable church is a satisfied church. A comfortable church is a settled church. A comfortable church is just a few steps away from becoming a selfish church--a church that’s preoccupied with the sole question of, “What’s in it for me?"
Acts 10:1-16 NIV
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa. 9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
Acts 10:19-20 NIV
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
Acts 10:28-29 NIV
28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
Acts 10:33-35 NIV
33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” 34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
"I now realize"
Like Peter once did, we all can look at certain types of people and think differently about them. It can be about race. It can about money. It can be about education and the way they talk. It can be about attractiveness, weight, hygiene, or other physical features. It can be about lifestyle or sexuality. It can be about past mistakes or a bad reputation. And that’s just the start. Whatever it is, that barrier can cause us to view them as “impure” and “unclean.” To be around them (or heaven forbid, to have them show up at our church) would put us out of our comfort zone.
It sounds incredibly ugly to say out loud… and it is. A lot of us know in our heads that God doesn’t play favorites and we shouldn’t either. But moving beyond "head knowledge" to "heart change" requires a massive work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Then and only then will we too realize that because of Jesus, God accepts everyone who genuinely seeks after Him.
Acts 10:43 NIV
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Everyone: Two "aha!" moments
Because of Jesus...
1. God's love is for you.
God's love is even for those of us who feel like our life’s a mess, we've made a lot of mistakes, we've hurt a lot of people, we've done a lot of shameful things, and can’t imagine that God would love someone like us. Jesus is able to purify our impurities, to cleanse our uncleanliness, and He’ll do so if we'll just call out to Him.
2. God's love is for "them"
“Them” in quotation marks, because we all have a "them." We all draw these lines in our hearts and make distinctions about certain types of people—“us” and “them.” Who's that group of people for us? We need the Holy Spirit to grip our hearts, truly believing that the love of God we’ve celebrated today really is for everyone.