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Peter and Cornelius

(Acts 10:30-40)

Lesson 8 -- second quarter 2001
April 22, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Barriers to the Gospel?

Peter was well-trained and devout as a Jew. He knew what kinds of food were permissible for him to eat and which kinds were not. He was so certain of himself and what he had been taught that he dared contradict God. I'm sure it didn't strike him that way, but it surely sounds that way to us. Peter was not about to contaminate himself with something "unclean." God had to make His point repeatedly before Peter was willing to change his view.

Peter almost erected a barrier to the Gospel. That barrier was uncleanness. But God showed him what he was doing, and Peter stopped construction of his barrier...though he didn't realize that was happening until he met Cornelius. Listen to Peter then, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Perhaps he also remembered the words of Jesus, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31,32).

When we talk about barriers to the Gospel, we usually think in terms of barriers put up by those who oppose the Gospel. We might also have in mind barriers established by those who resist the call of God in their lives. I suspect we rarely think of barriers that we as Christians put up. Yes! I believe we Christians at times put up barriers to the very Gospel we have been charged to proclaim! Here are some that I can think of.

Sin. This barrier resembles the one Peter almost put up. I think there are certain types of people that we (subconsciously, I hope) consider too sinful to merit being told the Gospel message. We just can't imagine that such a person would respond positively to Jesus anyway, so why bother telling him or her about the Good News we have? And there you have it, a barrier to Gospel...but of our own making!

Inconvenience. It seems we Americans in particular are quite convenience conscious. We do or don't do an awful lot on the basis of its convenience or lack of it. And it can affect what we do with the Gospel. Going to a rest home or retirement center once a week must surely be an inconvenience. Going to minister in the pit of poverty is both inconvenient and uncomfortable. Choosing mission work over a "real" career can really hurt the proverbial bottom line; how much more inconvenient can you get than that?! And thus the Gospel runs into another barrier, thanks to our own selfishness.

Fear. I don't like dangerous or life-threatening situations. I don't like being embarrassed and humiliated. I don't like failure and defeat. I doubt whether anyone enjoys such things. Unfortunately, if our abhorrence of such things leads us to fear them, we can easily avoid sharing the Gospel because it can lead to any or all of those. And being a missionary will supply anyone with ample opportunities to know fear in very intimate terms. So our fears as well as our fear of fear can create one more huge barrier to the Gospel.

Busyness. I wonder if Philip thought he was too busy in Samaria to go to the desert. I doubt it, but then he was human, so maybe the thought did cross his mind. More close to home, I wonder if I would feel I'm too busy if God clearly told me to go help in the Los Angeles street meetings. We have so much to do, and a lot of it is quite important and essential, even good. So we keep busy, but we should make certain that such occupation with living does not become a barrier that keeps the Gospel from those who need it.

If in your life you see a barrier to the Gospel, knock it down!

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