In chapter 10 we read of a Roman centurion. A centurion commanded 100 soldiers, hence the title, centurion. This was not your average centurion. He loved God, as did his entire family. Most Romans worshipped a variety of gods, so this man was unusual, although he probably did not face much if any persecution, because it was not unusual for the Romans to adopt the religions of the people they conquered.
What was unusual was the vision Peter had! Ever since God gave the Law to the Jews, there were dietary laws that forbade them to eat certain foods. So Peter had to be given the same vision three times before he would accept that God really was telling him that these unclean foods were now approved.
But of course the most important thing God was preparing Peter for was the idea of accepting Gentiles into the Christian church.
While he was thinking about the vision, considering what it meant, a delegation of Romans sent by the centurion after *he* was given a vision, knocked on his door and asked him to accompany them.
When they arrived at the house, Peter heard the Holy Spirit tell him that these men were brought by Him, the Holy Spirit, and that he, Peter, should go with them.
It didn’t take long for Peter to put two and two together. He understood that God was saying that Gentiles were His people, too, and that the salvation brought by Jesus was for them just as much as it was for the Jew.
This is good for us to remember, because some in the church today have a difficult time accepting those who are different from them into their midst. It’s certainly not as bad as it once was, but there are churches where it is still true.
Would you feel uneasy if a person who looks and sounds middle eastern came to visit your church? What about a transgender person? How about someone who had tattoos covering every inch of exposed skin? How about a homeless person who had not had a bath in months?
Friends, Jesus told us in Matthew 10:16 to be “as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” When someone different comes into our midst, we should accept them, but be wary until we are sure of their intentions.
The Roman centurion had already demonstrated his sincerity by the giving of alms and his habit of prayer.
Whoever comes into our midst, with good intentions or not, was created and is loved by God. Of that there is no doubt. Let us not reject anyone just because of their looks or anything external. God looks at the heart of man. We should look at the fruit of their lives, because the fruit is the evidence of what is in their heart.
Now. What fruit does your life display?