Cornelius…A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. Acts 10:2
I want to be a world changer, so when I meet one, either in person, or in a 300-year-old book, or in the Bible itself, I sit up and take notice. They have found the secret I long to know. This morning, in the Bible, I met a world changer. Cornelius is the man chosen of God to introduce the Christian faith to the Gentile world. And if you don’t have time to read a whole book, you’re in luck. Cornelius is a one chapter man—actually if you are considering his character, he is a one-verse man. I can grasp one verse. What is God trying to tell me about the people He chooses to make a REAL difference?
Here is the bottom line secret I figured out by thinking about Cornelius: Christianity must be both deep and broad. I know I am stating the obvious, but it has more meaning in the context of a real person who has been successful in living it out. How few examples stand out! Cornelius is a man of depth. The angel said that his prayers were a memorial before God. Memorials are built with plans and purpose, and time investment. A memorial is a connection to the soul. It is a place to return and remember, where one is not afraid of sorrow, or a flood of deep gratitude. Cornelius had built a memorial to God that was deep in his heart, and reached to heaven unsnarled by the cares of life. World changers build a memorial prayer life. He prayed earnestly, reverently, constantly. Cornelius longed for God, to hear His voice, and to obey like a soldier. He was deep enough for the task at hand.
I love Jesus’ command to pray in a closet. I can hide away from the cares of the world and seek my Father, and all is well. When I feel like my life is lacking, I don’t need more time, or money, or stuff. I need more of God. I want to be as deep as Cornelius. But when God was looking for a man to launch Christianity to the Gentile world, He chose a man who was both deep and broad.
The men who went to Joppa to get Peter declared that Cornelius had a reputation for justice and devotion among the entire nation. Cornelius routinely gave attention to the burdens of others, and was alert to righteousness, both in his household and beyond. When the angel spoke to him, he immediately gathered trusted servants to help him carry out the mission. Then, with no thought of the honor and calling that was his alone, he called together family and close friends to share in this momentous event. God was on the move, and he would not leave behind the ones with whom he shared his God-honoring life. We don’t know how many gathered, but the scripture says, “many.” In spite of the barriers Cornelius had as a Roman soldier and a Gentile, he continued rich in prayer and giving to others. How did he become broad as well as deep?
I cannot place myself in his culture, but I know the struggles of joining with a people in my culture who long for life—real life, abundant life, God-centered life. But world-changers are broad as well as deep. We will persevere in bringing our families along with us in a passion for Christ that will make world changers of the next generation. We will make friends who long for God and know more about Him than sports and movies. We will be a faithful remnant together, and when God decides to turn the world upside down one more time, we will all be together, in one accord, in one place, and READY!
Be deep, be broad, be a Cornelius, be a world changer. God has plans….