Who am I to stand in God’s way?


“If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying,“Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Acts 11:17-18

In this section of Acts, Peter is defending himself against criticism from the Jewish ‘Circumcision Party’, who accuse him of wrongly associating with the wrong people (i.e. Gentiles). Peter recounts the events which have happened to him: the extraordinary vision of unclean animals on the rooftop, the arrival of Cornelius’ men, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the new Gentile believers. Peter rightly recognises that if this is from God, he cannot possibly stand in the way.

Stunned silence follows.

These devout Jews are mentally processing news which blows apart some of their most deeply held views and forces them to rethink aspects of their faith. 

Then the silence breaks and they start to glorify God and rejoice in this amazing work of grace. These Jewish believers showed a gracious willingness to listen and an ability to reflect on and respond to the clear work of God that Peter describes.

Sometimes we think we have it all figured out. We can feel quite sure that our way of ‘doing church’, or ‘worship’ is the right way, or we think that we know how God works, or the kinds of people he uses. We are foolishly arrogant to presume to know the ways of God. Our long-held views sometimes need to be shifted if they are not in line with God’s purposes.

God is a God of extravagant blessing. He doesn’t drip-feed his Spirit to us, he pours it out! On young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate. We must be careful to test all things against God’s truth, but we must not exhibit spiritual snobbery or stand in the way of the workings of God’s Spirit.