Acts 15:1-21; Joshua 23-24; Job 32
There is this idyllic view of the early church in today’s world. How many times have we heard people utter something like “Why can’t we just be like the early church and not have problems?” Obviously people who ask that question haven’t done more than a surface reading of the New Testament. In today’s reading the tensions are high because those followers of Christ who had been steeped in Pharisaic beliefs decided that someone couldn’t be a true Christian if they didn’t follow all the teachings of Moses. The Bible describes the conflict in just a few words, but it raised such a ruckus that leaders from the whole church gathered to discuss the issue. As the leaders in Jerusalem met with both sides the tension was thick. The turning point must have been when Peter described his work among the Gentiles and then added: “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Acts 15:10-11)After Peter spoke, the gathered church then listened to what God was doing among the Gentiles. As a result of this conference, Gentiles were deemed to be full followers of Christ without having to follow the Law of Moses. There were certain expectations of behavior, but there was much more freedom than might have been expected. We need to understand that same freedom today. Obviously, there are expectations related to moral and ethical behavior because of the saving power of Christ that delivers us from a sinful lifestyle. That being said, there is a lot of freedom in Christ. Some today would follow the Law in response to the Grace of Christ. Others would live as far from the Law as possible. Peter’s words ring as true today as they did almost two thousand years ago: “… we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Acts 15:10-11)
Dear Lord, it would be so easy if You demanded that everyone else follow You like I do. But You give grace and freedom as You bring salvation to those who follow You. Let me love other followers of You who follow in a different way. Let me show Your grace to other followers of Christ and draw others to You as I experience and exhibit Your love.