Cornelius was a devout man. His devotion to God was highly unusual for a Roman, especially one who had risen in the ranks of the Italian Regiment to the position of centurion. The fact that he believed in the Jewish God indicates he had become a proselyte of Judaism. Not only the man himself, but also his family worshiped God. His faith had impacted some of his servants as well as his military personnel (Acts 10:7). He practised his faith by giving and praying regularly. We might do well to follow his example.
However, in spite of his faithfulness and zeal, something was lacking. God had seen his giving, and heard his prayers. An angel appeared to Cornelius about 3 one afternoon. The angel instructed him to send to Joppa for the man Simon Peter. Without explanation this might have seemed a rather mysterious command. Apparently Cornelius trusted God enough to send for Simon Peter.
Peter’s own experience in preparation for this encounter is a story for another day. Sufficient to say he recognized the call of God and went to Caesarea. Cornelius met him in a spirit of reverence. In fact he fell at Peter’s feet in worship. Immediately Peter raised him to his feet reminding him that he was only a man, just like Cornelius.
Peter knew his Bible. The law given to Moses instructed God’s people to worship only the Lord God, Yahweh. The fullness of this thought required 3 commandments – there was to be no other God, they were not to worship anything animate or inanimate, and even the name of God was to be revered, kept sacred (Exodus 20:3-5). Joshua reinforces this theme in his parting address to Israel: “Do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve then or bow down to them” (Joshua 23:7).
However, tribal customs in some countries call for a show of deep respect for visitors, for teachers, preachers and other noteworthy persons. When I tried to raise an elderly lady to her feet on one occasion, I was rebuked for resisting tribal tradition; she would not budge and I felt guilty.
At this point we need a clear understanding of what worship is, in the eyes of God. Does it preclude a respectful appreciation for other human beings in authority, or positions of leadership? When Jesus talked about worship He said: “God is a spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Worship includes ascribing “to the Lord the glory due His name…..worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29).
Clearly worship is defined by one’s attitude. It is exercised in a variety of ways, but essentially is an act of our spirit, as it seeks God. Bowing to man might be an act of misplaced veneration, but God recognizes the attitude of the heart, and judges us on that point alone. Taking Cornelius as our Biblical example, we see that God, knowing his heart was truly seeking God, gave him the privilege of knowing Jesus by bringing Peter into his life. Our relationship with God is defined by Jesus Himself, in a verse with which we are all familiar: “I am the way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
What attitude defines your worship and mine?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)