ARE YOU FLEXIBLE?
Thank You, Lord Jesus, that everyone who “calls on the
name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21) is part of Your family.
Read ACTS 21:17–26
17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”
26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.
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.
What things in your view are non-compromisable?
The journey to Jerusalem is finished (17)! Once again, we note the welcome from the believers. On the next day, Paul and his companions visit James, who appears to be the leader of the believers in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:13–21). The news that Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus causes the elders to praise God (20).
The Jerusalem leaders reciprocate with their own news: thousands of Jews have become believers, but these remain “zealous for the law.” Worse than that, the rumor mill suggests that Paul has been teaching Jews to give up circumcision and to abandon the law. Hence, the Christian leaders suggest a course of action to dispel these rumors by demonstrating that Paul has not abandoned his Jewish heritage. Paul agrees. It is clear from his letters (e.g., 1 Cor. 12–14; Eph. 4:3) not only that the unity of the church is of paramount importance but that he was prepared to become “like one under the law… so as to win those under the law” (1 Cor. 9:20). Of course, this was not absolute. Paul would never deny that salvation is through Jesus in order to win Jews, but he is prepared to compromise where such things do not conflict with the message of Jesus crucified, risen and exalted.
What is of paramount importance to you? The unity
of Christ’s church, or your way of doing things? Paul’s flexibility teaches us that while we can never compromise the message of salvation, the unity of the church should be of far greater importance to us than is often the case. Would we have agreed to the Jerusalem leaders’ plan, or have refused on the basis that it is not necessary? Perhaps we all need to become a little more flexible. That might just transform the church!
Pray for the unity of Christ’s church that we “may
be one” (John 17:21).
Lord, give me the wisdom to know the difference between
compromise for the sake of the kingdom and compromise
for my own sake.
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