"For it seemed good to the
Holy Spirit and to us..."
Acts 15:6

Acts 15:22-41

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Jesus’ promise has come true.

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told the disciples the Holy Spirit would fill them with power and they would be witnesses to the resurrection “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Acts 10-15 tell the story of how the Gentiles, non-Jewish people, have begun to hear and respond in faith to the good news of Christ.

And while this is good news it also causes trouble.

In what ways, if any, do non-Jewish people need to adopt Jewish customs and conform to Jewish traditions in order to be followers of Jesus?

Some believe that in order to be a Christian, you have to first become a Jew. Others, Paul and Barnabas among them, say “No, that is not required at all.”

Yesterday, we read about how the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church met together to consider the matter.

After much discussion James, a great man of wisdom and prayer, stood up and offered a proposal the entire Council unanimously supported.

The Council wrote “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burdens than these essentials” (verse 28).

Through a prayerful process of discernment the church listened for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they sought a way to resolve their conflict.

They did not avoid talking about difficult things. Instead, they set for us an example of how to deal with conflict in the church in a healthy, life-giving, and creative way that allows the church to continue to grow as it fulfills its mission.

Today, ask God to help our church follow the example of the Jerusalem Council whenever we face times of conflict. Instead of trying to avoid conflict and difficult conversations, ask God to teach us how to engage conflict in life giving and creative ways so that we can hear and follow the Spirit.

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.