It was a clash of two completely different cultures that first presented a huge challenge to the early church.
Gentiles (non-Jews) were putting their faith in Christ Jesus in large numbers. And many Jewish Christians were willing to welcome them into the church but only after the Gentiles conformed to their legalistic religious traditions and practices.
While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently.Acts 15:1–2a
Solomon was right when he wrote:
History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.Ecclesiastes 1:9
How many times have people avoided the church because church members have made them feel like they have to conform to the rules and change before they walk through the door? Unfortunately, churches can still burden people with rules before they receive them with love.
The church in Antioch wisely gave us an example to follow. They sent delegates to Jerusalem to ask the apostles who had been with Jesus to help them settle the issue. Jesus’ half-brother, James, a former doubter transformed by the crucifixion and resurrection wisely turned to the Word of God and said…
This conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted…Acts 15:15, 19
So my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
You and I should celebrate everyone who wants to know more about our faith and determine that we will not interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit by burdening new Seekers with traditions, rules, and regulations.
Jesus said He came to give freedom!
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.John 8:36
And He wants that freedom for everyone . . . people of different backgrounds, customs, cultures, and languages.
You and I are called as the church, the body of Christ, to love them, encourage them with the Word of God, and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and changing.
A Prayer for Our Churches to Love and Encourage
Father, You have created Your church to love people. The church is to be a community of believers who love You and love others. Please forgive us. We fall short of Your will for us every day. We focus on traditions and rules. We expect people to conform on the outside without reaching them with Your love on the inside. I’m sorry for the times and ways I have fallen short and failed to love the way You want me to.
Please move over Your church by the power of Your Holy Spirit and fill us with the LOVE of Jesus. Make us individual SEEKers. Make us a community of SEEKers. Help us show everyone the blessing of SEEKing You and Your will. Help us love You and love others and trust You to do the convicting and changing in us and in them.
Your undeserved mercy and all-sufficient grace enable Your church to love every individual uniquely created person on the planet with the love that sets us free . . . the perfect love of Jesus. I thank you and praise you now and forever. Amen.
If you have been judged, burdened, or hurt by someone or a group of someones in the church, I’m sorry.
I often repeat to a frequent commenter on Pinterest…
Please don’t reject God because His imperfect people hurt you.
Give Him a chance. SEEK Him. And let Him show you His love.
And if you’re a believer and church member . . . remember, you are called to love like Jesus. Lay your burdens at the foot of the cross not at the feet of another.
On today’s note write:
With God’s help, may my church be full of people who love like Jesus.
God bless you with love, encouragement, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
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