When Peter came back from Cornelius’ house, he returned to an uproar in Jerusalem. Rumors had spread about how Peter, a leader of the church, had actually welcomed Gentiles into his house and then went to visit one of them. Not only a Gentile, but a Roman centurion.
And so as soon as Peter entered, they converged on him and accused him, saying,
You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them. (3)
To these men, what Peter had done was utterly scandalous. He had, with full knowledge, made himself “unclean” by associating with these men.
And so Peter related to them all that had happened, his vision, Cornelius’ encounter with the angel, and finally the Spirit falling on Cornelius and all who had been with him. Peter concluded,
So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” (17)
Who was I to think that I could oppose God?
I like the ESV translation here.
Who was I that I could stand in God’s way?
How often do we stand in the way of what God is doing? Because of our prejudices? Because it’s something new that we’ve never seen before? Because it goes against everything we were taught to believe? Because of our own hardness of heart? Because of our pride?
One of the hardest things for people to admit is, “I could be wrong.”
Another hard thing for people to admit is, “God could be using them too.”
And if we refuse to humble ourselves, we could find ourselves fighting against God.
Ultimately, we need to do what the apostle Paul commanded us to do.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
Of course we should test new things to see if they are from God. But we should also test our hearts. Test our beliefs. Test our pride.
That’s what the Jews in Jerusalem had to do. Their conclusion?
When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life. (18)
And they no longer stood in God’s way, but joined in with his work (19-26)
How about you? Are you standing in his way? Or are you rejoicing in what he’s doing and joining in with his work?