We looked last time at Peter’s encounter with God, and how the Holy Spirit filled Cornelius’ household as a result. After this, Peter had to explain to the other believers what took place. Here he is talking about his vision: “I saw something that looked like a big sheet being lowered from heaven by its four corners. It came very close to me. I looked inside it and saw animals, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds. I heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘No, Lord! I have never eaten anything that is unholy or unclean.’ But the voice from heaven spoke again, ‘God has made these things clean, so don’t call them unholy’” (Acts 11:5-9).
Don’t those words seem incongruous? ‘Lord’ means master, and if someone truly has mastery over you, you don’t say no to them. Earlier in Peter’s life, he famously tried to do a similar thing. In Matthew 16, Jesus gives His followers a heads-up about His suffering and death, but Peter takes Him aside and says: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22).
Jesus’ response is often quoted. “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to Me” (Matthew 16:23). Peter went from support to stumbling-block because his attitude was Satanic, pushing out God’s agenda in favour of a human one.
Are there times in your life (as there are in mine) when you’ve effectively said, ‘No, Lord’? Maybe He’s asked you to give up chasing a dream and instead hand it over to Him, but ‘No, Lord; I still want to hold on’. Maybe He wants you to do something, but you know you’ll face opposition. Two quotes come to mind – one from Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”), and something my pastor said several years ago that’s stuck: “It’s never a waste if you’re doing it for the Lord.”
What if our ‘No, Lord’ turned into a ‘You know best, Lord’?