Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
I remember when Christianity was my elite exclusive club. I was in the club, and all those wretched sinners out there, were out of the club. Back then I thought, because of my awesome faith, I was now better off than others who didn’t have the faith. My God was so close to me that he could hear my every word, but God doesn’t listen to sinners like those outside my little club. I used to say things like, “The only prayer my God heard was one of deep heart wrenching, navel gazing, snot dripping confession and repentance for being a worm and rebellious enemy of My God! – Yeah! Take that you, sinner!”
So, that may be an over-exaggeration of things, but at one point that kind of thinking was something I was involved in. But over the years, as my heart was softened by God’s Grace, I read a story that I had read many times in the past, but for the first time I saw something that challenged, that even buried, the idea of Christian exclusivity, once and for all.
The story is the account of the first Gentile convert in the Book of Acts chapter 10 in the house of Cornelius. Now for all intents, Cornelius is a man who is devout to a God he does not know, but he’s not a Jew, a proselyte or a Christian. He’s a Roman Centurion and a Gentile and has not heard the Gospel. Yet look at the encounter he has as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapter 10.
Acts 10:3-4 He [Cornelius] saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
Not only is this Gentile non-Christian, getting an Angelic visitation, but he is told that his prayers and alms have come up as a memorial before God! He is then given instructions to seek out Simon Peter and bring him to his house. Cornelius retells the story to Peter later on;
Acts 10:30-31 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
Now we do not know what prayer Cornelius prayed. But, to say it was a prayer of repentance and faith towards Christ would be a great exaggeration of the text, seeing as he had not heard of Christ until Peter came and preached to him. The only conclusion we can say for sure is that Cornelius, a Roman, non-Christian, had his prayers heard by God, before he heard the Gospel preached to him by Simon Peter.
In the eyes of God, because of the Finished Work of Jesus Christ, there is no longer insider or outsider, as all were included. There is no longer Jews and Gentiles, rather we have become one new man (Ephesians 2:15). There is therefore, something we can learn from this story, that Peter also learned upon this account, that Truly, God is no respecter of persons.
Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Dr. C Baxter Kruger, talking about the difference between Believers and Unbelievers.