Gathering

Recall a time you were acclaimed “MVP” among your friends, colleagues, or family for “just being you.”

  1. Your neighbor or friend spoke of your “good deeds.”
  2. Your colleagues at work called you out for going the “extra mile.” 
  3. Your wife commended you, on your anniversary, for….
  4. Your child unexpectedly hugged you: “Thanks, Dad, you’re the best!” 
  5. Other

How does it feel to recall that moment of special recognition now?

 

Backstory  

Our Bible story features an “MVP” in his community. Historically, Jew and Gentile (outsider) represent opposite poles on the religious spectrum. Cornelius (secular military type) and Peter (a Jew, with many foods prohibited as “unclean”; the ultimate insider and Jesus’ sidekick) both took God’s instructions to heart and acted on them to mend their ways. Both Cornelius-types and Peter-types enjoy “MVP” status by their respective faith communities. Yet God shows no such favoritism but gives grace of to both the Cornelius-types and Peter-types. Both parties are invited, even required, to change or reconcile, as God directs.

 

God’s Story

Have everyone read Acts 10: 17-23  silently. In a re-read of this story, assign one person to be the narrator, another to be the angel/voice/Spirit who speaks to Cornelius and to Peter, a third person to be Cornelius, a fourth to be Peter, a fifth to be “the three men” (10:22). Read with the dramatic flair the story intends.

 

Finding My Story in God’s Story

In what ways are you like/unlike Cornelius?

    1. He may be generous to the poor, but I’m stingy. 
    2. I pray regularly, but still looking for answers.
    3. I obey authority—anything to court God’s favor.
    4. I live a regimented life, unfamiliar with heavenly visions or voices.
    5. Other __________.

 

In what ways are you like Peter?

    1. I need proof, a “show and tell” demo.
    2. I am inconsistent and impulsive.
    3. I’m traditional, got it all figured out, 
    4. I’m fearful of God’s new thing.
    5. Other ___________.

 

Recount a moment in your life when a long-held belief or cherished worldview of yours was challenged. Hence, you chose to follow a path different than the one you were on. 

    1. Issues of ethnic difference (race/nationality)
    2. The role of women in the church/leadership
    3. God forbid that I should change in any way.
    4. Cornelius and Peter were thus directed by God—but not me. 
    5. Other __________.

 

Both Cornelius and Peter had their life-altering moment in prayer. When someone talks or prays in ways that reflect God’s voice, what feelings about prayer are evoked in you?

    1. From such religious fanatics, I run: “Get me outta here!”
    2. I have my doubts: “God, who are you? Where are you?”
    3. I’d like to bust down doors with prayer: “Open, says me!”
    4. I can’t tell God’s voice from others: “What’s really going on?”
    5. Other __________.

 

What is God asking you act on or incorporate into a new worldview? Be specific.

 

Who is the “Cornelius” in your life that warrants a visit—someone who looks at life different than you?

 

Our Story

The voices of the historically disenfranchised and marginalized still cry out to be heard, really heard. How then do you think you should respond?

  1. I just plain struggle to understand disenfranchised people who…
  2. I’d like to be a conversation partner with …
  3. I’m open to pairing off within our group for a “Cornelius-Peter” conversation.
  4. The voices are too tribal, too biased, too strident—so I tune out.
  5. Other __________.

 

Before your group meets again, engage someone you know from a “tribe” different than the one you usually hang with.

  1. Your task is to truly listen with courage/openness, not judge/dismiss them. 
  2. Have your group pray for this anticipated conversation, for God to bless you.
  3. Be prepared to share this exchange when you next meet as a group.