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God Plays No Favourites
As I listened to Michael Franzese share his story at our weekend services, I was reminded that God has no favourites (Acts 10:34). It is moving to see how the Lord took a mobster out of the kingdom of darkness, and brought him out into the kingdom of light, by the power of His grace. Had we met Michael decades ago, we would have easily deemed him as a lost cause and with no chance for redemption. Based on his track record, we would have considered Michael unqualified to receive grace, and outside the realm of salvation. Yet, God’s heart has never been to favour some, and leave others on the outside – He wants for everyone to have freedom from things that slave us and receive the fullness of His love (2 Peter 3:9).
You and I might not have been part of a mob, making us feel precluded from salvation. Yet, you must have probably felt like an outsider at some point in your life. Know that God’s saving grace is for everyone.
While listening to Michael Franzese’s powerful story of redemption, I was reminded of this overwhelming realization while being in Israel. God loves the entire world in an inclusive way. Walking the promised land amongst Jesus’ “blood-related” people, my heart was glad that our God did not have favourites. We have been grafted into God’s family! Through the Old Testament and in the New Testament, we see the promise of salvation and of His Holy Spirit was for the Jews first, and then for the Gentiles- non-Jews, outsiders of the Jewish faith (Romans 1:16).
Jesus promised His Holy Spirit to the apostles before taken up to heaven. However, He clearly gives power so that His Message of salvation spreads to Jerusalem, and then to the rest of us – to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8-9) .
After receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter and the apostles were consumed with passion and power to share the message of salvation in Jerusalem (Acts 2 – Acts 10), until a pivotal moment in Caesarea that opened the door to rest of the world, to which you and I should be thankful for.
Acts 10 was a spirit-filled, supernatural and gamechanger chapter for the world – non-Jews, or Gentiles! The Holy Spirit gave vision to Cornelius an influential Italian-Roman Centurion during prayer. Even when he was leading a godly life, not a Jewish proselyte, he still needed to hear the way of salvation.
An Angel of the Lord appeared to Cornelius saying, “Your prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention,” and then instructed him to get his men to Joppa to ask for Peter. While Cornelius’ servants were about to approach Joppa, Peter was praying and fell into a trance. “He saw the skies open up. Something that looked like a huge blanket lowered by ropes at its four corners settled on the ground. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was on it. Then a voice came: “Go to it, Peter—kill and eat.” (Acts 10:11-12).
Peter quickly refused as the Jewish law forbade eating unclean animals, which gentiles would openly eat. With such a vision, God overturned the law and changed the way Peter was seeing Gentiles: as unqualified to receive salvation. The Holy Spirit said to Peter: “What God has made clean, do not call common.” After a supernatural turn of events, the story resumes with Peter arriving at Cornelius home in Caesarea, sharing the Gospel with him and his household. God’s presence was felt in this Gentile home, and while Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word. Without the laying of hands, all were filled, and spoke in tongues, worshipping God. (Acts 10:44-48) The Jewish believers were amazed, as they sawJoel’s prophecy be fulfilled where His Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, regardless of age and culture, with signs following on earth.
Acts 10:34-36 shows us that with God there is no partiality, and the door was open to the rest of the world:
34-36 Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.
It was through a man like Cornelius, a Roman Centurion who desired to know God and sought Him sincerely in prayer that God opened the door to all the world at Caesarea. While society classifies us by ethnicity, gender, and our works, God’s love and grace transcends every label and sees past every distinction, giving us salvation and the promise of His Spirit. As Gentiles, we have received what was promised to the Jewish nation first, but then made available to all of us. We are no longer outsiders, out of favour, but we’ve been redeemed and added to His Eternal family. God has no favourites and reveals Himself to those who really seek intimacy with Him from the depth of each heart – just like Apostle Peter did, like Cornelius the Italian Centurion did, and like Michael Franzese the mobster did.
God has no favourites! He is ready to reveal the fullness of Him to anyone who draws near to Him (James 4:8); He sure will draw near to any heart who is sincere.