“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So 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?” When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” – Acts 11:15-18
This is a retelling or recounting of the events at Cornelius’ house when he and all those present received the Holy Spirit poured out. In this recounting Peter has had time to reflect on the event and perhaps do a better job of remembering what Jesus said about baptism with water and the Holy Spirit.
Since this story is repeated it must be an important moment for Peter and the disciples. It is really the point at which they realize that God is not exclusive. Despite the special relationship with these disciples and the nation of Israel I suspect God was never really exclusive. God and Jesus has alluded to this many times, even in the old testament.
What God wants is, theophilus, God-lovers, the addressee of the book of Acts. I suspect there have been, and probably always will be, God-lovers scattered among those outside Judaism and Christianity. Just like Cornelius and the Ethiopian there are those whose souls are seeking and hearts are burning to know God in a more intimate way. Jesus and the Holy Spirit provide this intimacy for all those who choose to accept it.
The take home for me from this “circling back” passage is that we should be doing what Peter is doing, reflecting on what Jesus said about who God is seeking and who is seeking God. Perhaps sometimes we just need to get out of the way and let people find Him.
Prayer: God help us to be open to all who seek You and those You are in the process of seeking.