[Column] Desire the Word of God in Reverence like Cornelius

As a centurion who commanded 100 men, Cornelius was a Roman army officer whose role in the world’s most powerful Roman army was indispensable. Nevertheless, his fate was soon to be changed. After the final war of the Roman Republic and approximately 27 years before the birth of Christ, Augustus was enthroned. In countering budget deficit amidst a surplus of soldiers, Augustus restructured the army into fewer troops and paid the soldiers with goods. His new military administrative policy also dealt with centurions. Upon retirement, they were allocated the land to cultivate as a means of support. After retirement, Cornelius, an inquirer of Judaism, settled in Caesarea whose vicinity to Jerusalem and substantial Jewish presence appealed to him. Aside from its strong association with Jewish influence, Caesarea was also known for its impressive port, which Herod had built and dedicated along with the entire city to Augutus. Due to its strategic location, Caesarea soon became the administrative capital of the Roman Empire.

Cornelius was a man in his 50s who feared God. As God’s angel said to him, God accepted his prayers and gifts to the poor as a memorial offering (Acts 10:4). In spite of his charity, however, his thirst for salvation of and the ultimate spiritual truth always remained unquenched. In obedience to God’s command delivered through the angel, Cornelius eagerly invited Peter to his house.

We can easily notice Cornelius’s reverence for the Word of God in his prostration before Peter (Acts 10:25). Cornelius did not fall before Peter in reverence from the first encounter because Peter was flawless in character, rich, or famous. He did so because he saw the truth and the Word of God in him. The relationship between the laity and the clergy must be founded upon the reverence for the Word of God not upon human feelings. If it is built on mere human feelings, we can easily relinquish God’s blessing as a result of disappointment and hurts we experience from the clergy.

Cornelius gathered his family and all his friends in Peter’s presence and said, “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:33). This is the utmost reverence for the grace of God. The more we desire the Word of God, the more we discover its value. My continual study of the Word of God constantly reminds me of my ignorance and its profound mystery. It is same with grace. John 1:16 reads, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” As we desire grace, we understand its value and receive its abundance. In Nehemiah 8:1-3, Ezra brings out the Book of the Law of Moses by the request of the Israelites and they listen carefully as he reads it out loud from morning till noon in the square. The Israelites had a thirst for the Word. Moreover, they listened to the Word wile standing. How eager and devoted they were for the Word. From my ministry, I have discovered an important spiritual truth. That is, “God’s grace and spiritual growth are granted to those who sincerely desire them” (cf. 1 Peter 2:2).

 The Bible clearly records the descent of the Spirit on Cornelius and those who were with him (Acts 10:44). What is unique about the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit in Cornelius’s household is that they were granted to those who listened to the Word. This event illustrates a case in which the work of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled through the Word. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). The more we desire the Word, the more God confers upon us His Spirit. There is no greater blessing than the descent and presence of the Spirit of God. May all of you receive the blessing of God’s immediate presence as you desire the word and grace of God as did Cornelius.

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