Bible Reading Day 190
Day 190: July 9 (Acts 15:1-21)
A battle over tradition:
We have seen throughout the gospels how Jesus constantly battled tradition, especially religious tradition, and how that led directly to His death. We have also seen how much the early church fought similar battles, especially during the first missionary journey.
Today we see this battle reach a crucial stage, as Jewish believers from Judea arrive in Antioch to demand that Gentile believers must be circumcised to fulfil Jewish law if they are to become believers in Jesus. This is entirely right from their perspective because the Jews had for centuries held circumcision as a command from God that had to be fulfilled to be a Jew. In fact “uncircumcised” and “heathen” belonged in the same breath to most Jews! However, holding to tradition is often NOT a godly path! And in this case, as Andy Stanley remarks in his latest book “Deep and Wide,” it would have resulted in most of the new members meetings in Antioch being attended by women and children only!
To resolve the issue, the church decides to send delegates to Jerusalem to consult the leadership there. Jerusalem was the birthplace of the church and they would have more experience and wisdom for the church to help them find God’s answer to this problem.
So Barnabas and Paul set out again and travel with some others to Jerusalem. There the leaders (under the guidance of Peter, who recounts his experience with the Gentiles, and James, the Lord’s brother) come to the conclusion that the only requirements to be placed on new converts are that they should refrain from sexual immorality, and avoid idolatry, and be careful not to eat foods that give their Jewish brothers and sisters a problem. The key phrase that stands out in this passage is “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” – in other words, whatever gets in the way of people turning to God is not a tradition that needs to be maintained.
What might change in your life if you applied the same standard to yourself? That’s a challenging question I am asking myself!
Have a great day!