WHEN WE DISAGREE
Jesus, I’m so glad You love me no matter what. Help me to hear Your voice today.
Read Acts 11:1–18
Peter Explains His Actions
11 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a] water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow do Christians decide together what is God’s will? Reflect on any times you have seen this done well (and not so well).
It can be surprising when Christians disagree. After all, if we are all praying, surely discovering God’s will should be straightforward? Today’s reading reveals, however, that there is often more to discernment than that. We may need to take time to work through issues together.
When Peter returned from baptizing Cornelius, not everyone was happy. Many of the Jewish Christians were shocked that he had eaten meals in the home of someone who was not a Jew (3). Traditionally, Jews avoided such contact with Gentiles because they did not want to eat food which hadn’t been prepared according to Jewish dietary rules.
So, how was this disagreement resolved? First, Peter understood their concerns. He took time to carefully explain the reasons for his actions. Secondly, those who had the objections listened carefully to Peter’s words and kept their minds open to what he said, despite their feelings (18). And their main concern was to find God’s will, so they were happy to back down and support Peter when they were convinced God was behind his actions (18). How often do arguments persist in churches because people are more interested in what is best for them than in discovering God’s will?
Bring to God any disagreements there are in your church or that you are dealing with personally. How could you bring understanding and be a peacemaker?
Lord, help me to build bridges with people as much as possible. Teach me how to communicate with love and understanding.