These days many people convince themselves there is no God. We wondered why God does not make it abundantly evident that He exists, but if He did there would be no need for faith, no need to search out the cause of human existence. These thoughts came as we read of the conversion of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, in Acts 10, a man whose prayers show he was genuinely seeking to have a relationship with God.
First, Peter had to learn that the hope of salvation was no longer just for the Jews; the death and resurrection of Jesus had changed that. One of the reasons for the conversion of Paul was the Gentiles, for Jesus said to him, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles” (22:21).
As Peter talks to Cornelius and the Gentiles (non-Jews) with him, he explains that God has shown him that he is no longer to think any person “as common or unclean” (10:28). He says his hearers are aware how Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed … for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree” (verse 38,39). Peter is stating widely known facts.
What happened after that was not so well known – that “God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (verse 41,42). Because Cornelius was such a God-fearing man, his conversion and baptism is a lesson as to the kind of people Jesus is calling to his service.
The challenging principles Jesus stated still apply, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14) and Cornelius was among the chosen. This causes us to contemplate what really matters in the sight of God as to the basics which will lead to one being among the chosen. For this reason we are wise to read and reflect on His word every day and make every effort to put into practice the principles we find there. More than this, to reflect on another saying of Jesus, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him (or her) much will be required …” (Luke 12:48).