Peter broke new ground. He, a Jew, preached to Cornelius and his gentile household,. Peter shared with them the good news of God’s love and grace in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul, his traveling companions and followers expanded the ministry to the Gentiles. Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples to be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth has being fulfilled.
The church has taken Jesus’ commission to heart. For centuries the church has sent both clergy and non-clergy missionaries to the frontiers. Their mission has been proclaim the good news to those who haven’t heard it before. Missionaries were sent to the New World. Later they were sent to Africa, India and Asia. More and more people have heard the good news and responded to God’s grace. Christianity is now the largest faith group in the world.
The frontiers have changed, though. They are no longer just in Africa, India or Asia. The frontiers are in our backyards. Over fifty percent of people living in North America have not heard the good news of God’s love and grace. They may give gifts at Christmas and hunt for eggs on Easter, but they don’t know why. Those outside the church will not respond to empty words or judgment. They will respond, though, to loving relationships and acceptance. Look around and see our mission field.
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”