A friend once told me about their experience of becoming a Christian, and spoke of her desperation to get into God’s presence once she’d realised what it meant. Another friend is always encouraging others to go before him in every situation… he’s often making the case for why Christianity makes sense in conversations with people- although he has yet to make that decision for himself.
Sometimes when we hold open a door for others its to allow them to join in, at other times we invite them to go first, and on occasions we know we will miss out because we’ve allowed others to go ahead.
On two occasions in the book of Acts Peter holds open a door for others. And on both occasions he risks being shut out himself as a result.
When he healed the lame man, he invited that man to move from being a ‘sinner’ and ‘unclean’ to being accepted by God, and he stood in front of the council and told the why. The result? Both the man and Peter were told their behaviour was unacceptable. Peter was being threatened with exclusion from the faith community of his people.
And later, as we read in Acts chapter 11, he’s done something even worse- he’s gone to the house of a gentile (yuck!) and entered it (yuckier!), shared food (defilement!) and shared the gospel of Jesus (what!!!??), and then after all that, he hasn’t even had the decency to clean himself. Instead, he’s baptised them- he’s brought the gentile family and friends of Cornelius into the people of God.
And once again, he’s being warned off.
Both times Peter gives a similar answer- Who am I to oppose God? Should I listen to you or God?
And the rest is history…
So what would it mean for you to risk listening to God? To hold the door open or to step through it yourself? If the worst that can happen is we make a mistake, why are we so scared of the possibility of being right?