Who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?
A rock thrown into a pond has a noticeable rippling effect of concentric circles. First the circles are small, near the rock’s entry point. Then the ripples move outward, wider and wider until they reach the edge. We see the spiritual equivalent of this rippling effect in the early church as the gospel spread first in Judea, then Samaria, and now out to the Gentiles.
Not everyone, however, was comfortable with this new movement. Some members of the Jerusalem church, concerned with social taboos, criticized Peter for eating with Gentiles. So Peter recounted the whole story. Notice that the spread of the gospel to Gentiles is so important that we are told the story twice, once as narrated in chapter 10 and again by Peter in chapter 11. Christ’s salvation brought to the world—this is the central theme of the book of Acts!
Notice also the emphasis Peter placed upon the role of the Holy Spirit. The decisive moment was when the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles just as the Spirit came upon the Apostles at Pentecost. As Peter explained: “If God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” (v. 17). The Spirit was at work, Gentiles came to faith, and the church was convinced.
Finally, as the church spread to other Gentile regions, observe the connection between Jewish and Gentile churches. First the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas (later joined by Saul) to teach the faith to the Christians in Antioch. But likewise, the Christians in Antioch then committed themselves to support the Judean churches during a famine. Although separated by geography and ethnicity, the early church remained united.
Apply the Word
One way to combat isolation and division is through partnerships with churches in different cultural contexts. If your church does not have such a partnership, ask your pastor or leadership team if your congregation might find another church for mutual prayer and encouragement.