Something Came Up

This week we are discussing the Gospel being spread to the Gentiles.

Has anybody ever fallen through on a commitment they made to you, and explained themselves by saying, “something came up”? If so, how did that make you feel? It makes me feel like they forgot about me and are embarrassed to admit it.

But life is messy and for sure things do indeed “come up” and get in the way of our plans. We get sick. The kitchen sink clogs. We get stuck in traffic jams. The dog’s acting weirder than usual and you can’t be sure if the one sock that was on the floor for a couple days is now in the laundry or is perhaps in the dog. When things “come up” we usually think of negative outcomes (unless I suppose the dog produces the sock and saves you a trip to the veterinarian).

But this week’s passage gives an example of something “coming up” that’s a positive. We start with an encounter between Cornelius, a centurion, and an angel.

Looking intently at him, he became afraid and said, “What is it, Lord?” The angel told him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4 (HCSB)

This encounter kicks off events that resulted in Peter preaching the Gospel to Gentiles for the first time.

If I imagine getting the attention of an angel or God Himself, I tend to assume it’s because of sinful thoughts or actions. But here’s an example of angels being aware of good works, almost like workers talking excitedly about a great play in a football game around the coffee pot the next day. “Did you see what that guy did?”

What a humbling thought that one of our prayers or charitable deeds just might “come up” among angels and God Himself. Of course, God knows everything there is to know, but it’s more personal to consider Him not just knowing, but positively acknowledging a specific prayer or act. We get a clue about how to make that happen from this description of Cornelius:

They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” Acts 10:22 (HCSB)

Upright. God-fearing. Good reputation.

May it be said of us on this journey. Maybe it will come up - all the way up.

By Mark Stuart

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