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  • Writer's pictureEric Bents


God uses your relational influence, generosity and prayers, quick obedience, and humility through impossible circumstances to change the world.

The story of the Cornelius in Acts 10 gives us a good model for how to serve Christ well in very difficult marketplace assignments. Through the story of Cornelius, we learn how to be a Jesus-centered people pursuing a missional lifestyle of worship & Presence, of sabbath & service, and of community & humility.

Cornelius spent years tending to his backstage and developing his character, ultimately resulting in his leadership position. His intentional work backstage, and his position in the front stage made him the landing zone for the revelation of the New Covenant to the Gentiles. His life’s story is the Apex of cultural impact.

Cornelius was not only a military leader of extraordinary excellence and character, but he was also the ultimate example of a godly marketplace leader whom God used to change the world. Cornelius served as a senior officer enforcing the rule of an occupying pagan empire notorious for their oppression of their Jewish subjects! This stark reality of Cornelius' incredibly difficult leadership assignment only makes it more remarkable that ultimately, via his character, wisdom, prayers and acts of compassion, he was awarded the high privilege of being the initial landing zone for the extension of Christ's Kingdom to the Gentiles.

Cornelius was pre-positioned as a Marketplace champion (Acts 10:1, 22). Caesarea was the occupational headquarters and Cornelius was a regimental commander over 600 men. The Roman empire rested on these men of stature, and Cornelius was trusted to lead groups with different interests and different equities.

Like Cornelius, you may find yourself in the ranks of a hostile corporate culture or part of the minority at an unrighteous institution. Your very presence in these difficult marketplace assignments creates a catalyst for God’s to move in our culture.

How did Cornelius get to this place?

  1. Cornelius had relational influence.Cornelius had a reservoir of relational authority and authenticity in his inmost circles.His house was in order and His whole family was God-fearing (Acts 10:2). His inner core 'Relational Investment Group’ extended beyond his familial relationships. So when Cornelius received revelation from the Lord, he tapped into this reservoir of deep relationships and brought his people with him. Peter found a large gathering of people because all his friends and relatives showed up at his invitation (Acts 10:24).

  2. Cornelius’ generosity and prayers created an open Heaven (Acts 10:4). The early church considered alms as high an expression of worship as prayer. The love that Cornelius expressed through his prayer and his gifts to the poor drew God’s attention and positioned him to be the guy through which God grafted the Gentiles into the Kingdom. Leaders can learn from Cornelius that all the best leadership principles in the world do not replace generosity and prayers. Effective leadership without these two elements closes off the playbook of what God can do. As a leader, we give out of the generosity in our hearts, and also as a worship offering unto God by faith (Heb. 11).

  3. Cornelius quickly obeyed (Acts 10:7-8). He understood the importance of a God-encounter and only needed one revelation to go. He had faith that God’s presence was there (Acts 10:33), and responded with obedience. Both him and the Centurion with Jesus in Matthew 8 showcase how faith and obedience produces transformation (see Dr. Maclear’s NT History). As leaders, we shouldn’t underestimate our ability to spur the revival presence of God into our spheres of influence through our obedience.

  4. Cornelius’ humility positioned him for breakthrough (Acts 10:33). Humility is a counter cultural position that disarms active hostility. Through his humility, Cornelius was able to hold a high-ranking position while carrying the opposite spirit to the spirit that was above him. Peter notes that he shouldn’t be crossing Cornelius’ threshold, yet Cornelius had favor with all the Jews (Acts 10:28). In response to his humility, Peter affirms, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-36). We don’t know how, but based on the earlier descriptions of Cornelius we know that he was able to build his household of God-fearing family and right-hand men in spite of an overarching oppressive authority structure. Perhaps it was his humility that created a freedom of maneuver and ability to operate in righteousness, effectively creating a subculture within a culture.

We are praying for an unprecedented move of God upon our nation. I believe many of the "splash zones" for the coming waves of Christ's ever-increasing kingdom will again be among those who serve Christ well in very difficult marketplace assignments. We would all do well to model this centurion's devotion to his backstage while serving in the midst of seemingly improbable circumstances.


For Further Study

  • Acts 10

  • Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

  • Matthew 10:16 “Here I am sending you out like sheep with wolves all round you; so be as wise as serpents and yet as harmless as doves. But be on your guard against men.”

  • Matthew 10:18-20 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.


Questions to ask your covenant friends:

  • Define the most difficult cultural challenge that you face right now in your area of leadership. Compare and contrast your experience to what Cornelius dealt with.

  • Tell about a time you were trusted to lead groups with different interests and different equities. What were some of the unique challenges that came with that calling? Share your wisdom for building trust and respect during difficult leadership assignments.

  • Read Matthew 10:16 together. What does that mean in your leadership context?

  • When is it time to quit serving within a hostile culture?

  • In the companies, industries, authority structures or areas of culture where God has placed you, have you been able to carry an opposite spirit to the spirit that’s above you? Share about a time you created a godly subculture while living under organizational authority. Where did you see God’s favor? What obstacles did you experience?

  • What signs do you look for when discerning your level of favor or freedom of maneuver? Where have you seen God show up and breakthrough? What are indicators that it’s time to leave an oppressive environment?

  • What parts of your backstage character is God asking you to develop so you are prepared to carry the next Kingdom Flashpoint?

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