At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. (Acts 10:1-5 ESV)
Just as Saul a chapter before, here is a man confronted by Jesus (or his angel) and yet, rather than being saved then and there, God chooses to send men to do this work. He has granted such a great privilege to us! God has chosen weak vessels, such as we are especially when compared to angels or God himself, to carry the treasure of the gospel and do the thrilling work of a rescue team!
When I went to Nigeria I met a man who first encountered Jesus in a dream. He was Muslim and had a vision of Jesus in his dreams. His experience seemed common among Muslims in Africa who were brought to Christ. But these dreams were never in isolation. They always brought them to someone who could tell them specifically about Jesus and his gospel. God intends to unite us together rather than leave us isolated in our faith. It reminds me of the scene in John 11 when Jesus calls to Lazarus to come out of his tomb and when he does he is wrapped and struggling in his grave clothes. Jesus tells those nearby to go and take off the grave clothes. This is our calling as the church! We are called to go to those God calls out of death and bring them into the church, teaching them how to put of the old man (the grave clothes) and put on the new man. We are privileged with such a wondrous calling!
Lord, would you shape us, as a church, into a people with the gospel on our tongues in such a way that we too can be the instruments through whom you bring to Christ those you have called. We are eager, but also needing your gentle push.