If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should stand in God’s way?
The church itself is the main stumbling block to God’s work, it seems. Battle lines are drawn between denominations based on differences in rites and practices, churches are split based on oddball interpretations of obscure Scripture passages and those who were once faithful fall away in disgust over the infighting.
The first century church faced a much greater challenge than whether or not women could wear slacks to services; after thousands of years of “we only are God’s chosen people”, the Jewish Christians were finding that Gentiles were responding to the gospel message, and furthermore, expecting to be part of the new community of Christ followers.
Peter, though he was known as the apostle to the Jews, was a main catalyst in moving the new church to accept Gentile converts. On his arrival in Jerusalem from Caesarea, where he had been staying at the home of a Gentile convert named Cornelius, Peter found himself, as Desi often told Lucy, with “a lot of ‘splainin’ to do”.
In response, Peter recounted a dream (Acts 10:1-9 – 16) he had, as well as his witnessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentile converts (Acts 10:44 – 48). To Peter, at least, it was clear God intended the salvation offered in Christ to be available to all.
Yet we often act as if salvation is dependent on what church/denomination you claim, rather than on personal acceptance of the finished work of Christ.
Isn’t it about time we got out of God’s way?