As Luke, the author of the book of Acts introduces us to Cornelius, he establishes the fact that he is not Jewish but a more disciplined, God-fearing, religious man you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere. To me, the passage teaches that God has people everywhere, who are searching after Him, of whom many of us may not be now aware. They are waiting on us to come and to present the saving words of this liberating gospel to them (Acts 11:14). Jesus pointedly said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
God is at work in the Church of God, and He is also very much at work on the outside. No one church or people have a monopoly on God and the operations of His amazing grace. It is our responsibility to remain open to the leading and guidance of His Holy Spirit. He is building His church. We are laborers together with Him. We must remain open to taking instructions and coaching from the wise master-builder, so that the church might become what the Apostle Paul describes it to be in the book of Ephesians as “glorious” (Ephesians 5:27).
It was never the divine intent for the church to remain Jewish or dominated by one class, group, culture, race or nationality. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world (the Kosmos) . . .” (John 3:16). God so loved all the inhabitants of the world that He came on a mission to save, salvage, and deliver all of humankind from death, destruction, and condemnation. So vast and inclusive is the love of God that we still have a hard time comprehending it beyond our local, provincial, national prejudices and attachments. We often see Him as so very partial to our culture and racial/national identity that we often forget how cosmopolitan and supra-cultural He is, belonging to all the world and not limited to just one part of the world or to one culture.
As he worked with Peter, the consummate Jew, on the housetop in Acts 10 to get him to go share the good news of God’s redeeming and inclusive grace with Cornelius the God-fearing Gentile, to expand the borders of the Early Church, may this church remain just as open to sharing our faith beyond our local, provincial and national borders. Especially in these times of this Covid-19 pandemic and during these times of political, social and economic unrest, may the Church of God become more intent on perceiving what God is doing and what He is pushing us to do in these last times.
No longer can we remain a church peopled by one culture, but deliberate efforts must be made to tear down all racial, cultural, national, political barriers, so that we can, in reality, be that Jesus-church as is unequivocally defined and presented in Holy Scriptures. Revelations 7:9 reveals this fact when it states, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”
This is the Jesus-church we strive to be and shall be. We leave all racial pride, hatred, prejudice and bigotry outside the door. Baptized with pure love we denounce bigotry and racism as Peter was encouraged to do. We keep in mind that the Church is defined by its vigorous portrayal of this message in her daily ministrations. Directed by the Spirit we proceed to the next level of growth and advancement – truly an All-Nations Church!
Leroy V. Greenaway
Presiding-Bishop – Northeast Region
July 4, 2020
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional, Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region