Ari brushed the long strands of black hair from his eyes. There were beads of sweat soaking his dark brow
and his calloused feet were sore from sandals in need of repair, but the young man finally reached the
entrance to the villa after a long and difficult day of traveling the dusty roads from his home. Just as he had
been told, the villa was palatial, impressive, and to him threatening. The murmur from within indicated that
there were many people already congregated inside. Cornelius was a high ranking Roman officer and was
opening up his home because the man of God, Peter, was coming. Never before had the gentile community
had the opportunity to hear first hand about the Messiah, King of the Jews, rescuer of the less fortunate.
Word of this gathering had spread like wildfire. People like Ari had arrived from many directions and miles.
In his heart he knew something special was going to happen today. There was an excitement in the air. As
he entered the outer courtyard he saw ahead of him people pushing to get in through the arch and into the
courtyards of the great home. Here was his chance, for they surely wouldn't notice him in their midst. They
wouldn't remember that he was the same youth they had ousted, tried to kill because he was found in a
compromising situation with another young man. Nobody invited him here today, but he knew that God did,
and he couldn't deny what his heart told him.
Making his way beneath the arch with the others, Ari found a flat stone to sit on, part of a stairway ascending
to the roof level. He felt fortunate to find a place among children and strangers, crowded that it was. Both
courtyards below were filled to capacity and the atmosphere was electric. Some faces looked puzzled, others
uncertain, yet others revealed a sense of joy, an impending relief. There was a sense of camaraderie.
All were eager.
It took some time for the crowd of several hundred to begin settling down. Others were still arriving. There
was still plenty of talk going around, but within a few minutes as the expectation of Peter's appearance
neared, a hush began from one end of the courtyard and spread throughout. It wasn't nervous anticipation;
it was something far greater. The presence of the Holy Spirit began hovering over the gentiles like a cloud.
Peter and entourage entered briskly. Big Peter stood there looking over the crowd. Those who accompanied
him stepped back against the wall and were absorbed into the sea of gentile bodies.
Silence. Ari could hear the beating of his heart. Peter hesitated as though he didn't know what to say. He
may have never addressed a gathering of gentiles. He began to speak, softly at first until he found his
courage, and then he began addressing the mass of people who were intently focused on every word. The
Holy Spirit took over. Peter was preaching loudly now, and with conviction and great wisdom. He said "It is
true that God shows no favoritism, but accepts people from every walk of life who will put their faith in God
and do what is right."
Ari felt as though God was speaking directly to him. God was telling him that he was loved exactly as he was,
that there was no need for forgiveness for his lifestyle because he was created exactly as God had
intended. No sin committed, no pardon required. He put his trust in Jesus as his Savior and Lord. The Holy
Spirit confirmed the experience by filling the place with a presence of power and love. Ari began speaking in
tongues of angels, his heavenly language, verifying his salvation. Others followed, and soon the entire place
was speaking in tongues, dancing and rejoicing, fellowshipping in the presence of the Holy Spirit of God,
exalting Jesus as Lord.
Peter's friends could hardly believe what they were seeing, yet there would be no denying the salvation of
the Lord clearly being extended to the gentiles. From that time forth there would be no exclusion from the
body of Christ in regard to race or background. In the case of Ari, God blessed him with the knowledge that
his sexuality was a thing of beauty and that he was as equal in the presence of God as anyone else.
The power of love prevailed that very day at Cornelius' home, an infinite love, inclusive,
and for all time. Only those who perceive will understand.