A Serendipity Named Cornelius

February is such a fun-filled month of joy and the expression of tokens of love, but it frequently comes with certain expectations. Besides December, more acts of kindness and expressions of love are given in this month than any other time of the year. But most often, expressions of love come when we least expect, and that’s why we call them serendipitous.

Serendipity has been defined as “an unexpected discovery that almost comes by accident.” Others might describe such discoveries as a “divine appointment,” such as sharing the most important act of kindness or expression of love through the presentation of the glorious message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In some cases, such an expression of truth is more serendipitous to the one sharing the life-changing message of Jesus than for the person receiving the news whose life has the potential to be changed forever.

Consider this reality in the life of the Apostle Peter as recorded in the book of Acts. God showed him the universal principle of salvation, and he boldly explains it as he stands before the religious leaders of the Jewish nation. In Acts 4:12, he says, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Is Peter making a cultural declaration about salvation? Is he stating that there is no other name under Palestinian heaven or simply among Jewish men?

No, he is expressing a universal principle that God’s plan for redemption for all men under all heaven comes exclusively through and by the name and person of Jesus Christ. It is an imperative declaration based upon his understanding that Jesus is the promised Messiah who revealed Himself in word and deed and is in fact the resurrected Savior.

Yet the reality that Jesus was the Savior of all mankind did not register with the Apostle Peter’s certain expectation of the Messiah until after one of his personal prayer times and receiving a request to visit a Gentile centurion of the Italian regiment by the name of Cornelius (Acts 10). Upon Peter’s obedience to travel to and share the Gospel message with someone whom he had been taught his whole life was unclean and unworthy to receive such truth, Peter had a serendipitous moment.

When Cornelius and his entire household responded to the message concerning Jesus as Messiah in a favorable way, the “unexpected discovery,” which almost came by accident, that salvation had come to all men, even Gentiles, altered Peter’s entire life and ministry forever. In fact, the serendipitous moment he had encountered through Cornelius’ salvation experience and their divine appointment opened his eyes to the truth that God’s love for all men is even broader than he could have ever imagined or expected.

Is it possible that our theological perspective or expectations concerning the greatness of our God and the depth of His matchless love and redemptive plan of salvation have become superseded by some flawed intellectual theological formula? May our love for God, His Word, and those He has placed around us not only bring us to a fresh awareness of the needs but produce within us an obedient desire to share the glorious message of the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, and it might even result in a “serendipity” named Cornelius!