What’s Really Important
Lord, today my prayer is that faith will fill me, courage will strengthen me, and grace will surround me.
Read Acts 15:1-11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The struggle is to live by faith alone as the basis of our righteousness with him. It is difficult for us to be convinced that something more is not also necessary for our justification, and not only for our own but for others” (Lloyd John Ogilvie).
I became a Christian in my teens, loved into the kingdom by a family who were consistently there for me. Their church, among other things, adhered to the practice of women wearing hats. In the flush of my new-found faith, it didn’t really occur to me that I might be expected to wear a hat, too! It was only years later that I learned of the dispute behind the scenes over my lack of a hat versus the importance of not putting me off pursuing everyday-life Christ-likeness.
In my situation, grace prevailed and what was of primary importance won the day. That was also the case in the much more important Council of Jerusalem described in today’s passage. This was a pivotal milestone in the life and decision making of the early church. The issue was immense. It wasn’t about opposition to the Gentile mission but about whether Gentiles should come under the umbrella of the Jewish church, whether Gentile believers should, like Jewish proselytes, submit to both circumcision and law observance. The believers who were Pharisees were insisting that without circumcision Gentiles couldn’t be saved. Their arguments were powerful, and even Peter briefly capitulated (Gal. 2:11-16).
Even now it’s quite easy to add various secondary “ought to” practices that if not adhered to bring into question an individual’s faith. We can be quick to judge people without seeing what is really important. Could this have contributed to the decline in church attendance in the 20-29 years age group between 1985 and 2005, making this the age group with the lowest church attendance? Could it be that people have been put off by our preoccupation with the “ought to,” coupled with insufficient engagement with what it’s really like to try to live in contemporary society as a young Christian adult?
Is there some area of your faith where you feel like Peter, going back and forth (see Gal. 2:11-13)? How could v. 11 relate to this concern?
Lord, the Scriptures tell me that I must examine myself, but I am much more comfortable examining others. Help me focus on what is important to You and nothing else.
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