“The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’” (Acts 11:12-18)   Our text before us today is Peter’s summary of the strange, wonderful and quite unexpected experience he has undergone in his dealing with the Gentile believers.  He recounts his vision of the animals and of seeing the Gentiles response to the proclamation of the Gospel.  But of greatest importance, Peter relates that he saw the Holy Spirit come upon them even as it had the apostles at Pentecost.  I find it important here that Peter does not argue for an ethnic equality.  He does not say that the Gentiles are a worthy as the Jews.  Instead, Peter argues that the Gentiles must be included in the church because God has already included them through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  That is a crucial insight.  Our faith is a gift; God’s activity in our life is a gift.  As a result, we have a new identity which in and of itself is a gift.  Perhaps hearing that the Gentiles had repented and received the Holy Spirit reminded the Jewish believers of their own need for repentance; of the gifted nature of their own salvation.  I am quite certain that nothing can open us more to the inclusion of others than being reminded that we never had any innate claim on salvation ourselves.  However, it is the very nature of our God to give.  Are we able to recognize the gift of himself in the lives of others?