biblical story portrays unity | Faith and values
It’s an interesting name.
It was the name of a character from the original movie “Planet of the Apes” and I was a kid when I saw it on TV.
Charlton Heston plays an astronaut in this sci-fi movie and Roddy McDowell plays a chimpanzee archaeologist, who can walk and talk.
And Roddy’s character is called Cornelius.
You don’t hear the name often, so I was intrigued when I found it in the Bible years ago.
We find the name in the book of Acts of the New Testament, beginning with chapter 10.
This Cornelius is a centurion, an officer in the Roman army. Not all centurions are so nice, but he is a God-fearing man who prays all the time and is generous to the poor.
At one point, Cornelius sees an angel of God in a vision.
The poor man is terrified, but the angel has good news.
God noticed his prayers and his generosity. The angel told Cornelius to send men to find the apostle Peter who was staying in a house by the sea.
So Cornelius sends the men.
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The next day, Peter goes up to the roof of the house by the sea to pray. He is hungry and falls into a trance during which he sees the sky open.
Then something like a large sheet descends, being descended by four corners.
In this sheet are all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds. A voice tells Peter to kill and eat something.
As a Jew, he would not think of eating certain creatures considered to be forbidden, such as pigs.
No birds of prey like a hawk.
No shellfish like shrimp.
I don’t know if these particular creatures were in the leaf, but Peter’s answer is clear:
“In no case, Lord, for I have never eaten anything sordid or unclean. “
The voice comes a second time, saying, “What God has made pure, do not call it common.”
This happens three times and the sheet is immediately taken to heaven.
While Peter is still puzzled as to the meaning of the vision, the guys sent by Cornelius come to the house.
The Holy Spirit tells Peter that three men are looking for him. The Spirit sent these men, and He’s supposed to go with them.
So the next day, Peter and the men leave.
Cornelius, who has reunited his family and close friends, waits for Peter.
And now Peter understood what God was trying to tell him.
Peter and Cornelius knew that the Jews were not supposed to associate with people from other nations.
In ancient times, God wanted the Jewish people – of whom Jesus would come – to stay away from the unbelieving nations, whose people worshiped idols and made human sacrifices.
At the same time, God said that all nations would be blessed through the Jewish people.
Jesus, a descendant of Abraham, was a Jew and so were his disciples.
They kept the Passover during what Christians call the Last Supper because it was the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples.
Jesus died on the cross to save people from their sins – so that those who repent and believe in Christ can spend eternity with him.
Disciples like Peter would spend their lives sharing the good news.
So while Peter knew that the Jewish people had not been able to associate with non-Jews (Gentiles) before, he knew that God now offered eternal life to the Gentiles as well.
“God showed me that I should not call anyone vulgar or unclean,” says Peter.
And this is where the wonderful breakthrough begins.
Peter shares the story of Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrection. The good guys hear the good news.
And something extraordinary is happening.
The Holy Spirit is poured out on the Gentiles, who begin to speak in other languages - like what happened to the Jewish people on the day of Pentecost.
Peter had the new Gentile believers baptized with water.
Cornelius is considered the first Gentile to convert to faith in Christ.
Church tradition states that the first Gentile church began in the ancient Greek city of Antioch.
In Acts chapter 11, we learn that the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians in Antioch.
I like the story of Corneille and Pierre.
For me, it’s a story of unity and love for God.
It is a true story, full of optimism and hope.
I’m afraid the movie “Planet of the Apes” will not end if I hope.
I don’t remember much from the movie, but the character of Charlton Heston goes through a lot.
By the way, Charlton also played Moses in the movie “The 10 Commandments,” which isn’t too bad.
But in this case, I’m going to have to agree with all the people who watch a movie and end up saying:
“The book was better.”
Tammy Real-McKeighan is editor-in-chief of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.