Running late with today’s post. My apologies. Mom called this morning to make sure I was alive. Guess that means I’ve set a precedent for the posts going live early every morning.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program…
Meetings are a necessary boredom that must be endured for the sake of communication, decision-making and to make people look/feel important. They occur at schools, in conference rooms, for the neighborhood watch and for city council. They also happen in many churches and denominations in the form of committees. It’s been that way since the church began, for better or worse.
In Acts 15, the committee was called The Jerusalem Council. The Council met because there was disagreement among the leaders of the Church regarding Gentiles (those born outside the Jewish race) and circumcision. Let’s be honest. That argument makes significantly more sense than other divisions the church has created. On the one side you have practicing Jews who had undergone circumcision to follow the precedent set by Abraham. Some of those men may have vividly remembered their “commitment” and felt as though all others should have to experience the same sort of initiation.
On the other side, you have those ministering to the Gentiles who would say circumcision is a hard sell. “You believe Jesus is the Messiah. You’ve repented of your sin. You’ve been baptized by water and received the Holy Spirit… There’s something else you need to do, too. It involves a sharp edge and a very sensitive area…” And so the argument ensued.
It’s a sign of commitment and part of the Law.
It’s painful and unnecessary for following Christ.
The Bible says, “The apostles and elders were gathered together to consider this matter.” Ya think?! I can only imagine the volume at which this debate occurred and the locker room talk that arose. A group of men gathered to discuss their favorite anatomical element could have easily become a riotous mob if those men didn’t know Jesus.
Well into the debate, Peter speaks up. If you’re at all familiar with Peter, you’re already cringing. He had a habit of being impulsive and talking before thinking. As he begins to address the gathering, I envision John face palming and shaking his head. It appears as though many of the men gathered continued arguing even as Peter was talking, because it says later in the story that “the assembly fell silent.” Call it a “shut my mouth” moment.
What Peter said elicited silence, not because it was so outrageously stupid, but because it was truthfully convicting. He simply reminded them of the gospel. He reminded them that they had never been able to keep the law of Moses perfectly, that they themselves had been saved by grace and not works, that God had offered the same grace to the Gentiles. See for yourselves.
And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
The gospel brings peace in committee meetings, silence in locker rooms and hope for all of us who are unable to obey God all the time.