Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Several days before Peter was summoned to the house of Cornelius, God gave Peter a vision in which a sheet was lowered down from heaven, opening up before him. In the sheet were all kinds of animals, both clean and unclean according to the Torah. A voice from heaven commanded Peter, saying, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” Peter responded, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean,” and the voice came back saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
The Bible tells us that even while Peter wondered what this vision meant, some men were on the way to get Peter and bring him back to Cornelius. You see, an angel of the Lord had appeared to Cornelius, a Roman Centurion who was seeking God. That angel told Cornelius that God had heard his prayer and he was to send men to find Peter in Joppa and bring him back. Peter didn’t know what the vision was for and Cornelius didn’t know why he was sending for Peter. It was when Peter arrived before Cornelius that he realized the reason for the vision, what God was telling him. The message was that the gospel is for both the Jew and the Gentile. It was days after the vision that Peter saw the reason and understood the meaning. Peter could have dismissed the vision as something bad he ate because the meaning for the vision was not immediately understood. Instead, Peter retained it and thought about it. I fear there are many Christians who attend church and then because the message did not apply to them right away, right then and there, at that very moment … they dismiss it altogether.
There is a phrase that we sometimes use in regard to what our Pastors teach … that is the phrase, “That was a very timely teaching.” It insinuates that the teaching was of more worth because it instantly applied to one’s life. It also insinuates that there are times when what we receive can be discarded because it is “untimely.” But God never says of His Word that it is okay to discard it when we can’t find immediate application. I have observed that there are many Christians who read their Bibles, pray and go to church yet consider the word they receive to be disposable when it’s value is not immediately realized.
A disturbing thing about Christians taking that attitude toward scripture is the way it lines up with the notion that there is no absolute truth; that truth is relative to circumstances and convenience. Absolute truth and relativism have infiltrated the church so much today that many Christians consider scripture to be applicable only where we can immediately understand it, where it doesn’t offend our own opinions and where we aren’t inconvenienced by it’s truths. But the truth of scripture does not change to match changing opinions. God’s truth stands. The Bible has been called the anvil that has broken many a hammer. For thousands of years, people have tried to find fault in scripture and have always failed. We must place God’s Word above public and private opinion and heed it’s counsel whether it is for this moment or for a moment we have yet to live. God will and does prepare us for things to come in our lives and often it is the untimely word that we need to pay great attention to because God does prepare us for the future.