Monday, February 8

A model for unity

Scripture: Exodus 27-28, Psalm 17, Acts 15

Acts 15:28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:

Observation

It was a major crisis for the young church: would they require the Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the Jewish law to be saved, or is Jesus enough?  How did they resolve this huge issue?  Here are some of the steps they took:

1. The leaders met to consider this question. v. 6

2. They had much discussion. v. 7

3. Peter reminded them of what God had done through him, and what it meant. v. 7-11

4. Paul and Barnabas reported what God had done through them. v. 12

5. James summarized and cited Scripture.  v. 13-18.

6. Based on all that had been said, James proposed a solution. v. 13-18

7. This proposal seemed “good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”  They were united in agreement with the Holy Spirit.

Thankfully, they decided that Jesus was enough, that all of us are saved by the grace of Jesus, not keeping the Jewish law. v. 11.

BTW—later in the chapter, Paul and Barnabas disagree over whether to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey, and couldn’t work it out and went their separate ways.  The difference?  This disagreement wasn’t essential to the gospel; the first one was.

Application

What can we learn about our own community decision making?

First, if the issue is essential, we must come together and hammer out an agreement for the sake of the gospel.  If it’s not, we should try to agree, but may have to agree to disagree and still love each other.

Second, here are a few key components to group decision making among Christians.

1. Meet together and have robust discussion.

2. Consider what God is doing and has done.

3. Consider Scripture: what has God said?

4. Find a solution that “seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.”  Work toward a unity that pleases the Spirit.

The Church (big C—I’m thinking of the American Church) is fractured and it’s hurting the cause of Christ.  I pray that our leaders would come together and seek unity in the Spirit.

Prayer: Lord, the division I see in the Church hurts my heart; I can’t imagine how it hurts You.  Please give all of us, especially our leaders, humble hearts that would seek You, and seek unity in the Spirit.  Heal us!