One man grabs a daily cup of joe from the gas station convenience mart. A mom and her daughter order a fancy drink on the app they’ve downloaded from that national coffee shop chain. A third friend makes a pour over at home each day with beans he’s purchased from a local roaster. These approaches to a cup of coffee couldn’t be more different.
And the truth is that differences often divide us. Even for believers who shun racial or gender prejudice, it’s easy to fall into a habit of looking down our noses at a neighbor or co-worker because of their differing political views, their personality, or even the way they take their coffee. But in Christ, differences—whether they are ethnic, cultural, political, or due to gender, personality, or just a matter of taste—do not have to divide us.
Have you thought about just how different Peter’s and Cornelius’s backgrounds were?
Peter was a fisherman who had spent his days by the sea. He cared for boats, mended nets, and prepared each day’s catch for the market. Peter had also been raised as a devout Jew. He followed every Levitical food restriction. When, in the vision, the Lord tells him to kill and eat unclean animals, he responds, “No, Lord!…For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean” (Acts 10:14). Peter would have been taught not to enter—and certainly not to eat—at the home of a Gentile lest he be defiled (v.28). He would not have been sympathetic in any way to a representative of the occupying Roman government.
But that’s exactly who Cornelius was. He was a military man, trained in the work of a Roman commander. He was a Roman centurion, a member of the Italian regiment (v.1). He was loyal to Caesar, and, as a Gentile, he certainly wouldn’t have kept a Jewish diet.
Yet in spite of all of these differences, God drew Peter and Cornelius together. Cornelius already loved God, and he was seeking after him even before Peter visited him (v.2). And God had already begun to show Peter that he must not call any person impure or unclean (vv.15,28). So, when Peter began to speak to Cornelius’s household, he could say, “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (vv.34–35).
Everyone who trusts Jesus, no matter their differences, is adopted as a son in God’s forever family (Galatians 4:4–5). Christ saved Cornelius the Gentile just as he had saved Peter the Jew. Because of this, they were brothers in God’s family!