1: "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius..."
2: "A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house..."
30-31: "And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God."
43: "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
17-18: "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
How many people have read this part of Acts? Cornelius, the first centurion to believe, paved the way for the Gentiles to receive the Holy Ghost.
Jews were not to interact with other nations. They became racists, bigots, separating themselves from others in fear of being labeled unclean. When Jesus came to walk among us, He came for the lost, for the sinners, for the lost sheep, and for His people...all His people.
Peter was one of fiercest Jews when it came to separating himself from others. Did he not fear closeness to Paul until Paul brought it to his attention? Peter denied the words of the Lord three times during the vision the Lord gave him. Eventually, he realized, that God's will be done. Cornelius' men came to Joppa, collected Peter, and brought him to Caesarea. There Cornelius and his household believed, received the Holy Ghost, and were baptized. There were no more "unclean".
Rome punished Christians. Rome killed Christians; and yet, this Roman centurion knew the truth, believed the truth, and risked everything to gain salvation.
If I take this story and applied it to today, then it gives me courage to never back down. The world may hate Christians, the media may slander us, and the government may seek to eventually eradicate us.
The Lord is here for us all.