Diaspora Missions

Four “Next Steps” For Participating in God’s Global Mission

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It’s often said that through technology we are more connected today than we’ve ever been. Yet, if we’re honest, it often seems that technology is better at creating silos of similarity than flourishing, diverse communities. If we’re not careful, each of us can carefully curate our social circles to be filled only with people who look like us, speak like us, vote like us, and believe exactly what we believe.

This reality is not foreign to the context of the New Testament as cultural boundaries between Gentile and Jew often seemed impenetrable. Thankfully, God makes it crystal clear through the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 that this is not his desire for his people. Rather than creating cultural silos, God desires for his people to participate in his global story.

The example of Peter in Acts 10:1-11:18 invites us to participate in God’s global mission of reconciling the nations to himself. In examining these verses, we’ll find four “next steps” for participating in God’s global mission.

Step 1: Delight In What God Is Doing (10:1-16)

It’s important at the outset of Acts 10 to notice that it does not begin with Peter’s ingenuity or missional strategy. Instead, it starts with God’s initiative in calling Gentiles to salvation in Christ, a group of people that Peter and the circumcision party in chapter 11 would gladly have avoided on the street. This reality forces us to ask a difficult, introspective question. Are we missing the opportunity to see God at work because of our disdain for others?

Thankfully, God diagnoses our tendency to value external characteristics over heart transformation in the vision given to Peter. Against Peter’s Jewish food customs, God clarifies that true salvation is for all nations and is found in being reborn by the Spirit of God by faith. That is something worth celebrating! Practically speaking, you likely already celebrate what God is doing in the normal rhythms of your local church, baptizing new believers, participating in discipleship, and hearing reports from missionaries serving around the world. In the days ahead, let me encourage you to delight in the supernatural fruit that you are witnessing as God reconciles the nations to himself before your very eyes!

Step 2: Draw Near to Those Who Are Different Than Us (17-33)

As the narrative continues, Peter is approached by servants of Cornelius who inform him of what has happened. The response of Peter to these Gentiles is a helpful example for each of us.

First, he shows them hospitality, opening the home of Simon the tanner for their lodging prior to the next day’s journey to Caesarea. What would it look for us to welcome others into our homes and spaces? Or to put it a different way, short of God supernaturally giving a vision to someone who comes and knocks on our door, how are we going to build bridges to communities distinct from our own? To heed the advice of a friend of mine serving in Europe with the IMB, let us each find one or two social groups or meeting places within our communities where we can draw near to those who are different than us.

Step 3: Declare the Good News (10:34-48)

Next time you’re in a Gospel conversation think back to how Peter shared with Cornelius. In sharing the Gospel with Cornelius and his household, Peter focuses upon the person of Christ, his saving work, and the forgiveness that is offered to all who believe. But don’t miss the logical flow of Peter’s Gospel. This Jesus Christ who is Lord of all, stepped into our broken world. In his earthly ministry, evidence of the world’s brokenness began to be undone. Yet, Christ took the penalty for our brokenness, death, upon himself by being nailed to a tree, rose from the dead, and has been appointed the judge of all. And that’s what makes the invitation so sweet. The same one who is both Lord and judge is the very same man who has taken the punishment for all who trust in him and commanded those who know him to take the message of salvation in him to the ends of the earth as he reconciles the nations to himself. The logical conclusion? All who trust in him will be saved.

Yet, Peter’s participation in God’s mission doesn’t end when Cornelius comes to faith in Christ, and neither does ours. Peter stayed for a few days. Don’t miss that—committing himself to discipleship, to seeing the Great Commission carried out, baptizing these new believers, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. This should encourage us to recognize our need for community, value discipleship within the body of Christ, and commit ourselves to the long, slow process of sanctification through the means of grace. While we most certainly must be committed to going to the ends of the earth, there is also a time to slow down and abide in Gospel community.

Step 4: Be Devoted to Diversity, Even When It’s Difficult (11:1-18)

Simply put, we cannot be surprised by opposition to the global mission of God. In fact, if we can pursue our ministry goals without any opposition, we may be doing something terribly wrong. Let us instead choose with the Apostle Peter, to participate with God in his global mission, recognizing that a global mission requires the crossing of geographic, ethnic, and cultural boundaries. This is the will of God, and we dare not get in his way. As the Apostle Peter says, “How could [we] possibly hinder God?” (Acts 11:17, CSB).

Choosing to participate in God’s global mission may seem like a dauting task. However, God is giving many of us daily opportunities to take this step of faith as our communities grow in number and diversity. Ultimately, we need to answer a simple question. Are we going to view the growing diversity in our communities as a threat or hindrance to “the way we do things” or will we see it as a God-given opportunity to reach our neighbors and the nations with the hope of Jesus Christ? I beg of us to choose the latter.

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Chandler Donegan

Chandler serves as the College Minister and Assistant Church Administrator at Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, NC. He graduated in 2022 with an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and in 2018 from Auburn University. He lives in Wake Forest with his wife, Mackenzie.

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