I really love this story. It pulls back the curtain to let us see how God is working behind the scenes. Here is a Roman officer who is part of the occupying force controlling Israel with a very strong hand. As a Roman, Cornelius was from a culture with many Gods and a leader (Caesar) who demanded total allegiance. To discover that “He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.”(Acts 10:2) is unexpected. Let’s think about this for a moment. The stereotypical Roman soldier wouldn’t look this way, and that is the problem with stereotypes – they are often wrong! In this case, we have a man who has come to the conclusion that there is one God and he is devoted to pursuing knowing Him even though this is counter to his upbringing and heritage. Next, we see God respond to Cornelius’ pursuit and accept him as a follower. I am so glad God doesn’t write people off like we tend to! God sees his heart and knows that he is truly open and ready to follow. In the process of accepting Cornelius, God also wants His church to adopt the same mindset so He uses Peter to communicate the good news. As I write this I am praying that New Hope will follow our Father’s example and love, pursue and accept people as they are without caricatures or stereotyping. When we treat people with love and respect it opens doors for building genuine relationships and the chance to show and tell them about the One who offers freedom, forgiveness and new life.