Inclusion

Acts 10

  • What does it mean to you to feel included, to belong (in your family, at church, in your Connect Group, or in another context)?

  • Have you ever had an experience of being excluded - what was it like?


Read Acts 10:1-8

  • What do you notice about Cornelius the centurion?

  • How significant is Cornelius' ethnicity and social status, considering the Great Commission given to the Apostles by Jesus?


Read Acts 10:9-33 [1]

  • What is going on with Peter's vision? What do you think it meant to him initially? And how did the events that happen to him immediately after help him to interpret it?

  • What is significant about Peter "inviting the men into the house to be his guests,"(v23a) and that later he "went inside and found a large gathering of people"?

  • What role did the Holy Spirit play in reaching out to Cornelius and his household? And what role did Peter need to play in this?

  • What can we learn from this?


Read Acts 10:34-48

  • What did Peter preach to those assembled? How did he choose to present the good news of Jesus to them? Does anything in his presentation surprise you? Is there anything missing that you would have included?

  • Why does Peter baptise these Gentile believers? How is this a fulfilment of what he learned from his vision?


Read Deuteronomy 10:14-22

  • How do these words from the Law of Moses find their fulfilment in Jesus death and resurrection? And how does the narrative of Acts 10 explore this (focus particularly on verses 34-35)? [2]

  • Why do you think the Jewish Christians were so surprised (and even resistant), when the Old Testament provided them with this context.

  • How does the Gospel of Jesus bring about the inclusion that God had intended from the beginning?

  • How might we limit who we think God can reach? How can the Gospel be a Gospel of inclusion in our context (divided by things other than the Jew-Gentile divide)?


  • Take some time to consider how we might learn from Peter and the pattern of the Gospel going 'beyond' in Acts 10. Is there something here that can challenge or equip us to follow his example?


  • Spend some time praying that God would open our eyes to see the inclusivity of the Gospel for all people.

  • Then, spend some time in silence, and see if the Holy Spirit wants to reveal something to anyone in your group in answer to your prayers.


[1] This is quite a long reading. You may like to break it up and share it between a few people: e.g. 9-16, 17-23a, 23b-33. Actually, there's a lot of reading in this bible study!


[2] Theologian Miroslav Volf writes:

At the heart of the cross is Christ's stance of not letting the other remain an enemy and of creating space in himself for the offender to come in. Read as the culmination of the larger narrative of God's dealing with humanity, the cross says that despite its manifest enmity toward God humanity belongs to God; God will not be God without humanity... The arms of the crucified are open - a sign of a space in God's self and an invitation for the enemy to come in.

Exclusion and Embrace, p126.

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